Vampires live pretty ordinary lives, according to Only Lovers Left Alive, out this week on home video. As captured by veteran indie filmmaker Jim Jarmusch, Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton are bloodsuckers who have survived for centuries by living out of the limelight. Their idyllic, if somewhat depressing, lifestyle comes into danger when the more reckless Mia Wasikowska enters the picture, throwing their future existence into the winds of destiny.
For anyone who's familiar with his generally low-key career, Jarmusch's lo-fi approach will strike many recognizable chords. But taken as a commentary on the possibility of vampires in the modern day, it feels quite refreshing, especially in contrast to the likes of The Twilight Saga, which pushed its horror elements far into the background in order to focus on a rather ordinary tale of teen romance.
What other movies of the past few decades have focused resolutely on vampires in the modern day? Glad you asked!
Fright Night (2011)
As opposed to the 1985 original, the 2011 remake showcased how quickly the ostensible hero (Anton Yelchin) turned on his old geek buddies when he had a chance to romance a lovely yet very mainstream classmate (Imogen Poots), reflecting how pervasive peer pressure has become in the 21st century.
Perhaps because it's based on a Korean comic book, Scott Stewart's adaptation feels like a timeless thriller with an exhausted soul. Vampires have seemingly lost the centuries-long war against humans, but they've got a few superhuman tricks up their sleeves.
Let Me In (2010)
Another American adaption of material that originated overseas -- in this case, the superb Swedish-language film Let the Right One In, which itself was based on a Swedish novel -- this thriller demonstrated writer-director Matt Reeves' ability to craft an atmospheric, haunting film that stands on its own two feet as it follows the plight of a couple of very lonely vampires navigating middle school in 1983.
Eleanor (Saoirse Ronan) and her guardian, Clara (Gemma Arterton), have been vampires for 200 years and as far as they know they are the only bloodsuckers remaining. So they live in modern-day England while keeping their secrets to themselves, which makes for a fairly gloomy existence, until each of them meets someone who could make their futures a bit brighter -- maybe! But is it the right time to reveal those secrets?
The Lost Boys (1987)
The sleepy beach town of Santa Carla, California, is a great place to be a vampire -- not that the general population is aware of that dubious distinction (as revealed in the clip below). But when a new family moves in, they quickly learn that fitting in may require much more deadly activity than they anticipated.
The Hunger (1983)
Hiding in plain sight in modern-day Manhattan, Miriam (Catherine Deneuve) and John (David Bowie) make for a very stylish couple. Yet their relationship is reaching a turning point, since Miriam is a vampire and John's time as her companion is coming to a conclusion. Could a good doctor (Susan Sarandon) be a replacement? (Note that the trailer avoids mentioning the "v" word.)