There has been no shortage of vampire flicks in Hollywood. Stemming from 1931’s Dracula to the teen saga, Twilight, which first debuted in 2008, there has been a collective obsession with the blood-sucking undead. There have also been many varied portrayals of vampires. From the grotesque vampires in Buffy the Vampire Slayer to the hunky and brooding Salvatore brothers in The Vampire Diaries, writers and directors have taken liberties when showcasing these mystic beings on the big and small screens.
Set in Las Vegas, director Geoff Ryan’s Blood From Stone is one of the more intriguing vampire films seen lately. Told through a muted lens, the film follows Jure (Vanja Kapetanovic), an ancient vampire who goes by the name of Joe in the present day. While the world has pressed forward, Jure has not. He is still nostalgic for the days where he didn’t have to hide in plain sight. He’s unable to exist in the present day. Instead, he allows his blood lust to spiral out of control. His impulses often lead to him draining patrons at various bars, even though he’s supposed to be blending in.
Along with his obsession with blood and alcohol, Jure is dangerously fixated on his ex-girlfriend, a vampire named Darya (Gabriella Toth), who goes by Nico’s name. Though she’s desperately lonely, Nico is content to live out her nights as a bartender, leaning into her humanity and flying under the radar. However, as he has in the past, Jure’s presence in her life threatens to throw everything she’s so carefully balancing into chaos.
It’s hard to do anything “new” with the vampire genre, and though Ryan is working with a limited budget, he succeeds with several fresh perspectives. In past films, we’ve seen vampires who are immune to alcohol. However, Jure has discovered how blissful obliteration can be when he makes sure his victims are drunk before draining them dry.
Moreover, Darya doesn’t apologize for longing for a normal life. Instead, Ryan highlights how Jure’s constant interference in her life — from the beginning when he made her his vampire bride- has caused her a great deal of agony through the centuries. Blood From Stone is a film about the undead. Yet, the issues that Jure and Darya face together, especially as he pushes her toward her baser instincts, have never been more human.
In addition to being well-acted, the film works because it doesn’t try to stretch above its limits. Neither Jure nor Nico sparkle or shine and there aren’t any odd or misplaced special effects that would undoubtedly pull the viewer out of the story. There are fangs and blood, but there is nothing comical about them.
Though Blood From Stone did feel a bit lengthy at times, and it left the viewer with more questions than it answered, it’s a mostly successful and engaging film, full of humor, blood, and wit about the urges and desires that we’ve all experienced at one point or another. The movie is about the human condition, but the main characters simply happen to be vampires.