Director Iwai Shunji on his film ‘Vampire’

The 2011 Sundance Film Festival showcased some fantastic films, one of which was a vampire flick like none other. “Vampire,” directed by Iwai Shunji, is a film about a young schoolteacher (Kevin Zegers) who develops a taste for human blood and seeks out suicidal women in online chat rooms in order to quench his grotesque thirst. The guys over at Bloody-Disgusting.com were lucky enough to land an interview with Shunji, check it out.

Simon is not the traditional vampire character in this. He drinks the blood of others but he is not undead, from what I understand. What motivation did you give for the character to pursue this lifestyle?
I love vampire films as a movie goer, however, I’m not interested in typical vampire films as a filmmaker. If I couldn’t come up with the idea of Simon’s character, I would have passed on the theme of Vampire. Simon’s habit is quite unique. Even for me, it’s so hard to understand. And I thought how endless people’s imaginations are. Simon’s character is partly based on the strange habits that we all have.

I’ve heard theories floated that the film is your attempt to strip away the romantic veneer of the vampire mythology often presented in American horror films, and give the audience a more realistic interpretation of what vampirism would really be like. Is that true?
Yes, it is. I don’t think VAMPIRE is the first ever attempt to strip away the romantic idea behind vampirism, but I haven’t seen anything yet that takes on this point of view where the vampire is not a supernatural creature but rather a real human being. I wanted to show this idea to audiences who assume that vampires are all fantasy-like creatures.

Kevin Zegers has a very difficult role to play in this because he must go to some very dark places while also remaining somewhat sympathetic to the audience. What made him the right actor to take on that challenge?
I always thought of Simon as being somewhat geek-like yet relatable for the audience. I think Kevin has that type of appeal of being relevant but also nerdy. This was a good role for Kevin as an actor as well, since it’s so different from his previous roles that we are used to seeing him in. He really understood and took on the role of Simon.

Zegers described shooting the film in a set report I read as extremely taxing and somber. What was the mood like on set as you remember it?
I can see that being true, as we shot in Vancouver, Canada during the spring, so the weather was always gray and rainy, which can bring the mood down. In addition, I gave a lot of freedom to Kevin with his character, Simon, so he really took on the sadness and troubles Simon’s character was going through.

Read the full interview HERE.

What do you guys think? Do you plan on checking out “Vampire” yourself, or is it not your type of film? I can’t say that I’ll be giving it a shot, it’s really not the kind of vampire movie I go for. But who knows, maybe my curiosity will get the best of me.

– Moonlight

By Moonlight

Moonlight (aka Amanda) loves to write about, read about and learn about everything pertaining to vampires. You will most likely find her huddled over a book of vampire folklore with coffee in hand. Touch her coffee and she may bite you (and not in the fun way).

5 comments

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  2. “I haven’t seen anything yet that takes on this point of view where the vampire is not a supernatural creature but rather a real human being.”

    Isn’t that a whole subgenre of vampire movies? I’m not going to name any because I don’t want to spoil them, but there are a number of movies in which the so-called ‘vampire’ is an otherwise ordinary human being who is harvesting blood (or the recipient of harvested blood) – serial killer, occultist, biomedical experiments etc.

  3. I guess Shunji hasn’t seen The Wisdom of Crocodiles/Immortality or means “unique to Japanese cinema.” Well, to paraphrase Joss Whedon… either you watch vampire movies or you make vampire movies…

    One of my favorite manga has the same theme. Tokyopop published it as “Lament of the Lamb.” http://www.tokyopop.com/product/1258

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