Magazine article The Spectator

There Will Be Blood

Magazine article The Spectator

There Will Be Blood

Article excerpt

Byzantium 15, Nationwide Neil Jordan's Byzantium may well be stylish and moody - so moody, in fact, I wanted to send it to its bedroom with the instruction it could only come down again when less sulky - and Gemma Arterton and Saoirse Ronan may well be fine actresses, but yet another vampire film? Really? True, it plays with the tropes a little. There's a mother and daughter twist. There are no pointy teeth, just pointy thumbnails. But that thing vampires do, after they've sucked human blood and then look up, with blood-smeared lips and chin? That's here, plentifully, and it always makes me wonder why vampires have such bad table manners. Weren't they taught any, while growing up? Seriously, I've seen toddlers who have only just learnt to feed themselves master a pot of Petits Filous with less mess. In fact, if vampires spent as much time concentrating on eating nicely as they did on being undead, I might even take to them more. (Not much more, I expect, but a little. ) Jordan, of course, staked his claim on this genre back in 1994, with his adaptation of Anne Rice's Interview with the Vampire, but whereas that was rather camp this takes itself wholly seriously. It opens as mother and daughter, Clara (Arterton) and 16-year-old Eleanor (Ronan), arrive in a down-at-heel seaside town where Clara immediately seduces a bereaved lonely fella and sets about transforming Byzantium, his supposedly derelict hotel - it looked rather nice, actually - into a brothel, to earn money. The hotel has one of those old-style lifts with metal gates, and as soon as you see one of those old-style lifts with metal gates your first thought is someone is going to get stuck in there at some point. I don't want to tell you if you're right because that would be a spoiler, so will only say this: you're so not wrong.

Now, as they nosh their way, messily, through various humans, it becomes increasingly clear they have different preoccupations. Clara presses her pointy thumbnail into the neck of men who would otherwise abuse her, while Eleanor, who is troubled by her conscience, presses her pointy thumbnail into the necks of elderly people who are about to die anyhow. Mercy killings, if you like. …

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