Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Perfect Creature -- Natural Selection Vampires

Recently I went to see Daybreakers, and it got me thinking about another vampire movie I've seen not all that long ago.
Perfect Creature (2006) never had a theatrical release in the US, so there may be many that haven't seen it - or perhaps not even heard of it.
I'm always skeptical of vampire films these days, what with all the Twilight hubaloo- but this movie seemed different, darker. I was pleased I took a chance on it as I think it is one of the more original vamp films I've seen in awhile.

The New Zealand setting is a bleak, fabulously dark city that seems like a cross between Victorian England and Gotham City from the Batman films.

I'd expect to see the giant Batman spotlight at any given moment...

Showcasing the slums and the police force that tries to keep things in check there makes for a very gloomy, desperate vision. In an alternate history, vampires are a race of evolved, higher intelligence beings, and have all the typical enhancements that you normally see in vamps - better vision and hearing, greater strength, etc. They were simply "born" over 300 years ago and have taken it upon themselves to be the protectors of mankind. They formed a church of sorts, and call themselves Brothers.

Stepford Husbands...

It is important to note that not one of the vamps are born female.

Humans look up to and admire the vampires, no doubt because they have never harmed them (they never take blood directly from a human source) and have earned their trust by protecting them for years. The humans donate blood willingly for the vampires via a blood bank, and things have apparently been running smoothly for some time. In over 300 years the vampires have not attacked a human.

Then the murders occur. People found in alleyways with their throats bitten open. Police are at a loss to determine how it happened because generally, the Brothers have total restraint, order, and control.

Looking for the next desperate housewife...

The Brothers allow Silus (our main protagonist vamp, played by Dougray Scott) to team up with a Lily (Saffron Burrows) who is a sullen detective trying to solve the mystery.

"Give me a reason, bloodsucker..." (And no, she doesn't really say that!)

Seems Silus's brother Edgar (Leo Gregory) is a research scientist who has been searching for a way to create female vamps (would they call them Sisters?) because no vampires have been born in 70 years and they feel they may be losing their "control" over mankind. Renegade Edgar has also now concocted a virus - one that infects humans and turns them into stark raving lunatics.

Trying out for the lead in Saw VII

In other words, vampires gone rogue. Edgar is fed up with the human race and feels they would be better off either dead or like him. When he finds out Silus has developed feelings for Lily, he makes it his mission to attempt to infect her.
There are hints at romance but nothing ever comes to fruition because they are too busy looking for Edgar. But it is insinuated in many instances.

Okay, so there are still some classic stereotypes in place. Black clothing, obligatory brooding, and the whole "I shouldn't be with you because we're so wrong for each other" complication...but the film is distinctly different than others in the genre, such as the Underworld series or - god forbid - the Twilight movies. At the onset, Perfect Creature draws you into its steampunk-like enviroment. A gloomy, impoverished part of the city comes alive in front of your eyes.
And lets face it, I like vampires in any way, shape or form.

Ok, I like most vampires. Babies with fangs: just disturbing.

At times, the plot seems too complex or too baffling to understand, as if we are given just a little less than we need to know, but it really didn't interfere with my enjoyment of the movie. (Hell, a lot of movies have almost zero in the way of a plot, but I still enjoy them - usually if they have either superb acting, great atmosphere or at the very least someone nice to look at as the lead!)
Perfect Creature has a lot going on, and you can see where they've set it up for a sequel, which I would not be adverse to.

It has been called an action thriller, which is not how I would classify it at all. If you're looking for Lestat meets Lethal Weapon then think again. Yes there is action and there are thrills, but at the end of the day, this is simply a bold, unconventional vampire movie with good-looking leads, an original plot, and loads of grim ambience.

HorrorBlips: vote it up!

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