Vampyr is really two movies: the first, a linear vampire tale that can be resolved easily by a stake in the heart, and the second, an eerie cinematic poem about the spirituality of contemplating death. And it's a testament to Dreyer's interests that the second film—the stronger one—so smothers the first that audiences were confused. A classic of arthouse horror, a literal journey through darkness towards the light.
"I wanted to create a waking dream on screen and show that horror is not to be found in the things around us but in our own subconscious". Rewatched and re-loved. One of the best horror films ever made.
Dreyer's first sound film mantains the dynamic of his silent ones, but the adroitly inspired imagery combined with the scarce dialogue and the eerie atmosphere make this "transition" film one of the best and most singular works in Dreyer's career.
As much as Vampyr is beautifully rich with Dreyer's own cinematic influences/context, there's something about the film, his films in general, that make it obvious that you're seeing something distinctly formative to movies as we know them, & without which the medium would be poorer. The euphoria, though, is in the film's integrity; its ceaseless consistency of vision, & the sheer connectedness that must've come from!
I rewatched this one, and it grew on me. Sadly, I watched it with Year of no Light's soundtrack; which is a mistake as I prefer my silent films silent. I love their music, and this was more a droney piece, than their heavier work; but as a soundtrack it really didn't work. Much too heavy, and very distracting. For the film, there are some really impressive segments and atmospheric imagery in parts, but as a whole...
Strikingly spare begetter of Trance films (a cousin of sorts to Deren's Meshes...) Whilst on associations, this also remind me of a kind of gothic M.R. James, or at least the BBC films of James' work from the 1960s and 70s. Witness: A Warning to the Curious and Whistle and I'll Come to You, which surely owe some debt to the pared-down aesthetic here, although seldom as poetic as this glorious film.