Halloween is coming, and there are plenty of newly released horror movies to enjoy this year, including The Invitation, a divisive vampire movie that leans more on the traditional aspects of the creature lore.
Vampire movies have the tendency to follow a certain formula ever since they were popularized with Nosferatu. The thirst for blood and eternal life are the basics, but there are plenty of other elements that are simply overused by now, such as the seductive themes, sunlight as the main weakness, and sleeping in coffins. This Halloween, it’s time to check out some vampire movies that deal with the subject in an unconventional way.
Let The Right One In (2008)
Stream On Prime Video
Let The Right One In is a precious hidden gem within the vampire genre. A coming-of-age story on the surface, it also deals with topics such as bullying, abuse, friendship, and first love. Set in the ’80s, the film follows a young boy and the powerful bond he shares with a strange newcomer; a girl harboring a terrifying secret.
Vampire children are quite overlooked in the genre and Let The Right One In addresses this standpoint delicately. Implications such as loss of innocence and the angst of feeling trapped inside a body come to shore and offer an unconventional take on vampires.
The Addiction (1995)
Stream On AMC+ & Shudder
The Addiction is much more conversational and philosophical than one would expect from its gripping initial minutes. In the film, a vampiric student tries to cope with her uncontrollable desire for blood and academic life, assisted by strangers who may or may not be as dangerous as her.
The thing The Addiction does best is addressing the core of the creature’s lore, the thirst for blood, as a compulsion, adding depths of psychological discussions and reflections upon human behaviors. It does a great job of balancing important existential arguments with good onscreen violence.
Near Dark (1987)
Stream On The Criterion Channel
If there’s one thing to describe Near Dark is style. The movie isn’t worried about being faithful to the well-established vampire lore and that’s why some people can’t connect with the movie at all. However, the different approach deserves merit for successfully blending ’80s aesthetic into its distinguishable style.
Feeling like a Western at times, Near Dark also flirts with romance and horror. Following a farm boy entangled with a band of vampires after falling in love with one of them, he reluctantly becomes one of them, but at what cost?
A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night (2014)
Stream On The Criterion Channel
One of the best horror movies directed by a woman, A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night is the perfect vampire movie for those looking for a highly atmospheric horror set in an unconventional location. In an Iranian ghost town, a female vampire wanders in the empty streets at night, preying on unsuspecting strangers.
The movie’s decision to follow the predator at all times gives her certain anti-hero energy, delving into her methods and her targets. A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night wants viewers to get inside a vampire’s head and learn how to think like one.
The Reflecting Skin (1990)
Stream On Peacock
A vampire movie set almost entirely set during daylight, in the countryside surrounded by open fields, how could that work? The irony of its setting applies to the movie’s bold narrative as well, and regardless of whether there are vampires in the story or not, it still is predominantly a movie about vampires.
In the film, a young boy’s suspicion about his neighboring widow being a vampire coincides with strange killings going on in the region. When she becomes entangled with his older brother, who’s just returned from war, the boy resorts to desperate measures to split the couple. As devastating as it is disturbing, The Reflecting Skin is a horror movie that one might initially think is okay, but only hits harder once one thinks about it.
What We Do In The Shadows (2015)
Stream On Kanopy
What We Do In The Shadows is the perfect example of how following the vampire formula doesn’t necessarily mean not adding anything new to the creature’s lore. The movie takes every single well-known convention that constitutes a vampire movie such as an invitation to get in, fear of daylight, and even feud with werewolves, compiling all of it in a cleverly-constructed satire of the horror genre.
Arguably Taika Waititi’s best film, it follows the daily struggles of four ancient vampires as they try to adapt to the ever-changing modern society. Ordinary things such as completing household chores, going out to nightclubs, and adhering to a new wardrobe are constantly interrupted by the perks of being a vampire.
Only Lovers Left Alive (2013)
Stream On HBO Max
Counting on arguably Tilda Swinton’s most likable character and breathtaking performances by Tom Hiddleston and her, Only Lovers Left Alive is an intimate horror story about two ancient vampires, Adam and Eve, living in existential dread. Depressed about the monotonous implications of eternal life, the couple can only find comfort in the love they feel for each other.
The movie offers an interesting approach to the vampire genre; although it counts with the typical bloodshed and horror elements that come with the creature, it mostly focuses on the vampires’ struggle in the face of a modern world lacking substance and thrill.
Trouble Every Day (2001)
Stream On AMC+
Sometimes the trump card of a good vampire movie is not revealing itself as a vampire movie at all. In Trouble Every Day, there are bloodthirsty creatures that try their best to keep what’s left of their humanity and control their unbeatable lust for desire in a way only Claire Denis could have pulled off.
The movie doesn’t offer easy answers and its mythology is open for viewers to interpret, following the parallel stories of two lovers in Paris who experience a love so strong, it almost devours them.
The Lost Boys (1987)
Stream On The Roku Channel
Usually, vampire movies offer a very distinct narrative between the point of view of the predators and the hunters, but The Lost Boys manages to capture beauty and thrill in both. In the film, vampires are bad, period, but the movie doesn’t hide from viewers the fascinating perks being one of the creatures has to offer, from living forever to actually flying.
To avoid glamorizing the figure of the vampire too much, The Lost Boys also offer the hunters’ point of view, a small group of teenage boys who try desperately to set their town free from the vampires that overrun it. The movie is a must-watch from the 80s; a fun, stylish depiction of a generation that uses the vampire trope to portray a whole generation.
Not Currently Available To Stream
Known as one of the masters of horror, George A. Romero helped popularize many of the conventions of the zombie genre still used to this day. However, a hidden gem in his filmography also offers an exciting new take on another type of undead: Martin.
Martin is supposedly a vampire, a young man who fails to control his instincts but tries his best to relieve them in an unharmful way. Moving to his elderly and hostile cousin, his blood-craving urges become increasingly hard to be kept a secret. It’s the kind of movie that knows how to play with the audience; there’s no real indication Martin is truly a vampire, but viewers can’t help but feel sorry for him. The scenes in which he hunts are some of the best in any vampire movie, crafting effective suspense guaranteed to keep anyone on the edge of their seats.