A morose young woman, a soft-spoken blood-drinker and plenty of rainy skies — no, it's not "Twilight," but a languid, micro-budgeted serial killer drama called "Vampire," the first English-language film from Japanese writer-director Shunji Iwai ("All About Lily Chou-Chou").
Mild-mannered science teacher Simon (Kevin Zegers) trolls suicide websites for girls — played by Keisha Castle-Hughes, Adelaide Clemens and Kristin Kreuk — who are willing to let him end their lives. Afterward, he partakes of their blood, a penchant that earns him the sobriquet the Vampire from local authorities.
Your ability to swallow Iwai's twisted take on consensual, doomed romanticism hinges on your taste for meandering art-film imagery and willful kookiness (Amanda Plummer as Simon's dementia-ridden mother, whom Simon keeps tied to white balloons).
Then there's the storytelling that veers between amateurishness and the kind of oddball dreams you wake up scratching your head about. Zegers' recessive vulnerability manages to keep you from being routinely horrified about his big secret, but after the quiet, dread-filled punch of the first half-hour — when it seems vampire culture is going to get turned on its head — Iwai's character study mostly descends into a pretentious slog.
— Robert Abele
MPAA Rating: Rated R for some disturbing violent content and language.
Running time: 1 hour, 59 minutes.
Playing: at the Downtown IndependentCopyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun