Channel 4: PREMIERE Saturday 12 September, 12.45am
Mysterious vampiric duo Gemma Arterton and Saoirse Ronan shelter at Byzantium, a dowdy hotel in the coastal town of Northhaven. Interview with the Vampire director Neil Jordan ensures that Moira Buffini’s screen adaptation of her play, A Vampire Story, looks like a film. Like several films, actually, with its copious dreams and flashbacks spread across diverse time-frames.
Specifically, it echoes two Ridley Scott pictures: Arterton and Ronan act like Blade Runner replicants on the run, while their backstory resembles scenes from The Duellists. Jordan samples his own work, too, of course: the poetic observation of ugly settings is strongly suggestive of Angel and Mona Lisa.
He overdoes the waterfall pouring blood, though, which looks like something out of Twilight; it’s not an image as evocative as the lift gorging blood in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, nor the bedroom blood fountain in Wes Craven’s original A Nightmare in Elm Street. In any event, the material here is as faded as the floral wallpaper in the hotel and the story’s as mottled as Jonny Lee Miller’s complexion. It’s a serious film, but not at any time scary. The blood flows like molasses, sticky and slow.