It can clearly be argued that this world is not left wanting for more vampire love stories. I don’t know if all of this modern day blood lust and sexual ambiguity got started with Anne Rice or not but it certainly didn’t end there. The past few years especially have brought us an increased amount of vampire laced content. I’m specifically thinking of HBO’s successful, blood slurping and breast exposing True Blood, the Swedish coming of age vamp flick Let the Right One In (which is great by the way if you aren’t afraid of subtitles, mediocre English dubbing, or Sweden), and of course the ever hyped chick lit Twilight movie based on the bestselling novel (although admittedly I haven’t familiarized myself with that last one – some kind of self preserving aversion to all things Mormon prevents me from going there). So do we need another vampire romance story? Yes, we do, because this one is a little different – in a good way.
Dead and Lonely, hosted on IFC.com, is a five part web series written, produced, and directed by cult indie horror filmmaker Ti West who brought us The Roost, Trigger Man, and The House of the Devil. The series revolves around two people looking for love on the oh so popular online dating site DATEorDIE.net. Out of curiosity I entered the URL for dateordie.net and was pleasantly surprised to be taken to an actual web site, albeit a fictitious one with some pretty clever and well done videos showing online singles’ (read losers) desperate pleas for a date – nice touch.
But back to our story. Our hero Justin, played by Justin Rice, is an unkempt, perpetually bed headed and overly sensitive guy who recently broke up with his girlfriend and is testing the waters of online dating. On the other side of his screen we meet Lee (isn’t that a guy’s name?), played by Paige Stark, who along with being shown in various states of undress (yay for us viewers cuz she’s not bad looking) also happens to have some unusually long and razor sharp bicuspids and can fly (if you’re slow here…um…she’s the vampire).
Vampiress Lee seems to have a thing for nerdy looking guys and zeros in on Justin’s picture on the dating site. She posts a note to have him call her which he dutifully does and 45 minutes later after some slow and sensual post shower dressing for the camera and a bit of window leaping the two are sitting awkwardly at Justin’s tiny kitchen table wondering what to do. Suddenly Lee, being too warm for Justin’s form, can’t take it anymore and makes an aggressive move. Justin, startled by Lee’s advance pushes back and expresses his doubts, uncertainties and current state in life as a new single guy. But really, like all manipulative, self absorbed, whiny and mind screwing women, he (catch the subtle role reversal here?) just wants a hug and someone to talk to while we all know Lee just wants to suck him dry…or does she? Sorry, I’m not going to spoil things any more than I already have for you here.
Although it is slow and a bit awkward at times, West’s experience in commercial film is clearly evident. The scenes are well shot, the dialog is smooth, and the sound effects and musical score all help drive the story forward. There are also plenty of subtle and amusing references to the vampire world that may not be properly picked up on by the uninitiated. Those in the know though should easily catch and appreciate the various nuances. The premise, a vampire utilizing the modern www’s proliferation of social networking and online dating services (hello creepy craigslist stalkers) works well here and is original. Overall I liked this series and can easily recommend it to anyone with a lust for the forbidden pleasures of vampire love.