I am a great lover of vampire movies and stories, and am always interested to see how filmmakers and storytellers approach the well-worn vampire mythology. Every vampire story must take time to establish the “rules” of that particular vampiric universe, so the (sub?)genre lends itself to world-building. Some vampires can survive in sunlight, though uncomfortably; others can endure limited exposure; still others burst instantly into flames. Some vampires fear the sign of the Cross; others laugh at it mockingly; still others fear the faith in what the symbol represents, but the symbol is rendered powerless without that faith.
Vampire stories also offer the opportunity to explore interesting themes. Immortality is a common one: what happens when you have forever to live on Earth? Anne Rice’s novel Interview with the Vampire (1976) explores that idea in great detail, specifically the ennui and nihilism that come with earthly eternal “life.” The initial thrill of vampiric power and endless nights of bloody reverie gradually turn to centuries of self-indulgent, murderous moping, as the vampire passively watches the world he loved transform around him into something unrecognizable.
This month, Shudder released a new exclusive, Jakob’s Wife (2021), a feminist-inflected vampire story starring 80s scream queen Barbara Crampton. While the feminist themes were a bit heavy-handed at points, the film handled the subject matter with a surprising degree of nuance. Suffice it to say that, like tell-tale two-pronged mark of the vampire’s bite, this film has stuck with me.