Vampyr - Der Traum des Allan Grey - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Vampyr - Der Traum des Allan Grey Reviews

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October 4, 2016
Try to make sense of Carl Theodor Dreyer's "Vampyr" and you'll find yourself spinning in circles - this is a horror movie best looked at as an exercise in style, not a comprehensible adrenaline inducer featuring much that would characterize it as a quote unquote vampire movie. Vampires are involved in the plot, sure. But because the film reads as a cinematic fever dream to disarm the eyes and not the senses, it's more reasonable to be hypnotized by its images than attempt to keep up with the characters Theodor Dreyer barely sketches.
Eighty-four years later and "Vampyr" is widely regarded as being one of the finest horror movies ever made and a pivotal point in the career of Theodor Dreyer ("The Passion of Joan of Arc"). But from the critical and commercial standpoint of 1932, the film was a failure, an unlikable enchilada of blurry photography and dull nonsensicality. Since cinephiles of today are better equipped to appreciate the technical achievements of game-changing auteurs, "Vampyr's" interpretive renaissance only makes sense. But perhaps those close-minded ticket-buyers of nearly a century ago were slightly unerring in their disfavor of the movie's indirectness - while I'm in awe of Theodor Dreyer's cinematographic innovations and his masterful control over the film's hallucinatory atmosphere, there's no denying that its ephemerality makes it a fantasy pressed to successfully put us under its spell.
It puts on a front of having a storyline for the sake of appeasing the most difficult of a viewer, but I see "Vampyr" as using characters and their motivations as markers to stitch the celluloid together to keep it from floating away. The film, more or less, revolves around Allan Gray (Nicholas de Gunzburg), a young occultist whose view of the world, as the movie puts it, blurs the real and the unreal. His wandering nature thus leads him to the village of Courtempierre, a secluded region in north-central France. Gray doesn't plan to stay long - he's simply renting a room for the night - but after being awakened in the early hours of the morning by a strange man who appears to be in a trance (he even leaves a letter that's supposedly only to be opened in the event of his death), his stay gains in its meaning.
Especially when, after some investigation, Gray learns that the village, in actuality, is controlled by vampiric forces, with several of the town's residents being dominated by the vindictive energy. As examinations deepen and revelations increase, Gray very well might find his life drastically altered in the process of his getting used to Courtempierre.
A lot of those descriptions, though, stem from a great deal of inferring and speculation - while watching "Vampyr" was I not so much caught up in the logistics of the plot (if there are any) as I was taken aback by Theodor Dreyer's torrent of stunning imagery, all gorgeously realized (his utilization of the soft focus lens is an absolutely brilliant touch) and all luscious in their nightmarish disconcertion. The film's more inclined to evoke artistic intoxication than a night's worth of spine chills, however, and our reaction to it is more comprised of admiration than emotional torment.
Which is precisely the problem I have with "Vampyr." Though unquestionably ravishing and unprecedented in its experimentations, Theodor Dreyer always keeps us at an arm's length, never to erase our surroundings and draw us into the world he's so methodically created. And in the wake of the incredibly affecting "The Passion of Joan of Arc," paling in comparison is inevitable. But much of "Vampyr" is extraordinary; this is filmmaking at its most daring and its most peerless.
½ September 6, 2016
Between 2.5 and 3. Although little story and vague plot, the use of image (shadows, the girl opening to the evil) is great, and some aspects have not been overcome by time.
May 14, 2016
Truly gorgeous stuff, but kinda gets convoluted after the first act unfortunately. Didn't need to be.
May 11, 2016
More hypnotically surreal than anything, Vampyre feels like a nightmare where you're living in an arcane photograph.
½ December 29, 2015
Ah films about Vampires, you either get your blood thirsty crazy looking vampires or your calculated vampires whose thirst for blood is much more creepy than scary. Vampyr the film from Carl Th. Dreyer is really the creepy kind with its weird looking sets, surreal events and just characters whose emotions are conveyed through body language much more than by words. Dreyer somehow manages to get that dark underlying feeling all successful horror movies must have but in my opinion does not create any kind of masterpiece here, good, but not as perfect for me as some say this is. The story revolves a young man who is introduced to the world of vampires and the supernatural, as the plot moves on we see more about what they are and what they can do.

Dreyer uses a cast not very well known if not in some cases at all and puts Nicolas de Gunzburg in the lead role as Allan Gray the young man whose fascination with the supernatural takes him to a small inn in the village of Courtempierre. For me the best character is the village doctor played by Jan Hieronimko who was found on a Paris metro train of all places and cast into the film among many other amateurs. I feel that Hieronimko's performance is similar to others in this too, I mean the acting here is not exactly great, don't get me wrong it's not bad at all but sometimes they just move around a little sluggishly, reactions are sometimes over the top. Dreyer knows though how to use his actors well though, even if they aren't too believable, he does this in a spooky way and although they move around just a little strangely, at times that strange movement can be kind of freaky and used to nice effect.

Dreyer co-writes the film with Christen Jul and the script but in more specifics the dialogue is very well, not much there, but that is one reason this movie works so well. At such a short running time that this film is you can't be adding too much small talk, in fact this film dives into the plot very quickly indeed and it works well because it makes this so much more interesting, straight away you are hooked in on the story and that makes this at least very watchable. The film was not exactly met with positivity when it was first released and was considered a low point in Dreyer's career, the thing about this film though is that although I feel this is a little too clunky to be anything better than good, it is still well as I said, good, a must see for any fan of cinema or horror.

Vampyr is not the best horror film but it is as I can see considered a classic among it so I can't finish this review without recommending it. It won't make you jump, in fact it won't probably make you feel scared at all but that I feel is not what Dreyer is trying to convey, it is the surrealism of it that he tries to make you see and tells a story that is highly original and a very smart yet weird story. All the characters Dreyer creates are well done and although I mentioned the acting before it is fair to say they all do a pretty decent job at least all together as a cast. Oh and one more thing and this is pretty important really, the camera angles, Dreyer works extremely well with Rudolph Mate and they create a film that looks not just creepy, but also looks extremely surreal as well.
December 25, 2015
Surprising use of effective camera angles and visual effects including shadows and superimposed imagery - from 1932 Swedish director Carl Dreyer.
½ October 31, 2015
Filled with lovely imagery and some daring dream sequences, Vampyr is more an example of something you'd watch to appreciate than to really experience. The story is standard (a man visits a town only to come in contact with the supernatural) and the sound elements are barely there, but as a whole, it works as a visually compelling look into the early stages of the horror genre and a stylish piece of classic cinema- just don't expect to find anything beyond that point.
October 14, 2015
The mind boggles at how this must have played on release in 1932 because, here in 2015, this phantasmagorical Vampire tale kind of blew my mind.
½ October 5, 2015
It does take a fresh approach into the Vampire mythology, but it can take a confusing turn at the very end.
July 9, 2015
Classic horror film from Danish director and silent film auteur Carl Theodor Dreyer. This is not like most vampire films, but it is moody and creepy and can give you the genuine creeps. Shot mostly like a silent film with limited dialogue, and relies mostly on the images and a few title cards. I'd recommend this film over the Bela Lugosi-starring "Dracula" from the same era.
June 28, 2015
The fact this has a happy ending really brings it down for me.
March 28, 2015
A masterpiece and an example of expressionistic psychological horror if not the greatest vampire film.
½ January 24, 2015
Interesting visuals; overlays of multiple exposures and other early film special effects uses shadow and texture.
The plot seems to largely consist of a Latin version of HP Lovecraft look a like wandering around a small fishing town. The story it self is super vague and loose.
Would have been cool to see in high definition, but DVD is the best they have at the moment.
January 17, 2015
This film is undoubtedly home to some elegantly disorienting images, but the one thing that really stands out for me is director Carl Dreyer's use of sound, which is nothing short of revolutionary...especially when you consider that this was going to be a silent film practically until the moment it came time to shoot. The sound design (not to mention the music) is the most unsettling thing about it, at least for me. The entire film was shot silent, and dubbed later in German and French versions (an English version was planned but evidently never recorded); all the more amazing that even by today's standards the audio aspect of the film is still unusual enough and effective enough to qualify as 'cutting edge': today's filmmakers could learn a thing or two from Dreyer when it comes to using sound and music to enhance image. Having said that I don't want to undersell the visual aspect; this is among the most physically beautiful of all horror films, its pictures generating a luminescent surreality that is so very like an uncomfortable dream. There are no outright scares to be found here, a la even 'classical' monster films such as Frankenstein or The Mummy, but it haunts you like a half-remembered nightmare, its gauzy dream-pictures moving through the back of your mind with all the deadly stealth of a black widow spider; for instance, the grotesquely smiling face of a recently-vampirized young woman gazing lustfully into her sister's eyes is chilling enough without descending into melodramatic cheap scares or parading artificial boogeymen in front of the camera. The plot, as if I need to point this out, is practically nonexistent; Dreyer's world is as divorced from any conventional notions of reality as that of Bu˝uel or Cocteau or Vigo. The influence this film exerted over scores of future directors from David Lynch to Dario Argento, from Roman Polanski to Mario Bava, is plain to see. Not for everyone -- and modern horror fans expecting conventional thrills may feel shortchanged -- but worth it for the discriminating film buff.
½ September 25, 2014
For it's time, Vampyre most likely got overlooked due to the success of Nosferatu. Either that or it became a bigger name. Either way, it is a very dark intriguing film.
September 12, 2014
for its time I feel there is no significant award winning to this film. its great story lacks good acting along with very little structure
½ September 6, 2014
Dreyer shows us how can a chilling horror movie be made without blood.
½ August 21, 2014
Vampyr has simply stunning cinematography, art direction and visuals and the atmosphere is suitably dark, but it is nonetheless a bit of a disappointment for its immensely talented director Carl Theodor Dreyer after his terrific The Passion of Joan of Arc thanks in large part to its incredibly sluggish pace, unimpressive story and unnecessary intertitles which play too many times and certainly for too long.
July 1, 2014
The plot can be a little light and incoherent at times, but Carl Theodor Dreyer's "Vampyr" manages to be an effectively creepy film. The gothic scenery and unsettling visuals give the film a "nightmare" sensibility that makes this a great horror movie to watch on a dark Halloween night. There are so many scenes in this move that are really well done. One of the things I admire about the film is it's kinetic cinematography, which gives way to very interesting viewpoints in a lot of scenes. One example is a scene were the camera puts us through the perspective of a man lying in a coffin as he is being carried to be buried in a graveyard. The camera points straight up through a small window in the coffin, which gives way to creepy bits were people are looking inside the coffin and views of a gothic church from an upward angle. The concept of being buried alive is pretty terrifying, which is why the first-person camera viewpoint makes the scene very effective. The film also uses shadows in a way that is both hypnotic and surreal. Despite being a sound movie, it might as well be called a silent film since there is very little dialogue spoken throughout. I highly recommend this movie to anyone who is a horror fan or is in the mood for a good spook-fest.
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