Dead & Beautiful takes the vampire genre to the neon lit and lavish night life of an unnamed Asian megapolis. A group of obscenely rich friends hang out and take turns treating each other to the most strange outings possible. They are lots of money, are incredibly bored, and are looking for thrills. One night, their lives take a strange turn that changes things forever.
Vampire stories usually focus on horror over mystery. There can be jump scares and disbelief from some characters, but there is little for the audience to question. Dead & Beautiful is a different kind of vampire movie. It soon becomes a question of who can be trusted and what is real. The story adds to this by refusing to dive too quickly into vampire lore. The five make it a point to avoid sunlight and go about looking for blood. Surprisingly, there is not much thought put into why some vampire lore does not pertain to them; when not completely ignored the trite “do not believe everything you see in movies” explanation is trotted out.
Dead & Beautiful eases into its change from possible vampire thriller to possible vampire character study. There is not much depth to the characters – they are basically rich kids with nothing better to do – but the script provides enough to keep the things interesting. Initially, it works. There is enough humor and nuance to figure out who the antagonist will be while keeping audiences guessing as to what is really going on.
Regrettably, the longer the story drags on, the more ridiculous it becomes. The mystery comes undone fairly quickly after being introduced. The mystery that is so interesting is dropped in favor of a psychological thriller. Since the group a little more than caricatures, it really does not work. There would be more here if the young socialites were given more to latch on to. The awkward tonal changes do not help. Dead & Beautiful goes from silly fun, to serious thriller, to social commentary. This is done without build making for sudden changes that can be jarring.
The entire end sequence fails to resonate. It seems tacked on and does not really fit in with the rest of the film. This leads to a final twist that is more inevitable than shocking and leaves more questions than answers. The futuristic look of Dead & Beautiful never fails to impress. It also sums up the movie perfectly.
Dead & Beautiful comes to Shudder November 4
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