Despite some contemporary complaints, it is apparent that vampires have had an intertwined relationship with love, lust and everything in between. An attractive (typically foreign) person who craves young blood, from defenceless victims who are usually hypnotised to the vampire’s charms. It is clear to see the metaphor. In 2016, this relationship was counterpointed against the backdrop of the nightlife of a modern city, as a film attempted to depict the world of the Manhattan Undying.
A painter, Max, is hired by a wealthy patron in New York, who requests a portrait of herself, seems simple enough as the painter is a talented artist, but lost in a sea of drugs and destruction, though he’s not got long for this world though his agent wants him to capitalise on his talents to make a quick buck, much to Max’s chagrin. He soon forms a relationship with this client, Vivian, though unbeknownst to him, Viv is a vampire who memorises men with her beauty only to leave them shall we say in a more depleted state than before. Meanwhile, some detectives investigating a string of murders are putting two and two together and getting Vivian’s name. Will this tale of forbidden love get to see the light of day, or will the pressures of nightlife in the city be too much?
There is an almost poetic quality given to some of the supernatural elements on display, namely the reason why Vivian needs a portrait and cannot just use a mirror. Those knowledgeable in the lore of the undead know that lack of a reflection is their typical calling card, but in Viv’s case, she simply does not like seeing what she has become. The film is a cost-effective feature made in Canada, not needing that much to tell its story, but also not feeling like it needed to make every penny count in order. Once again, the streets of Toronto make a good stand-in for the boulevards of New York.
Model and actress Sarah Roemer embodies the role of Vivian, who readers might recognise from the cryptic series The Event. She is a good fit for the role as attractiveness and mysterious are part and parcel of Vivian’s character. Luke Grimes is also great and the decadently destructive Max, who deals with some very human issues regarding his current plight in the city. The two seem naturally intertwined together, as you would hope for in any romantic film, let alone one about a vampire .
A more sophisticated and adult example of the thing that springs to mind when you think of romantic vampire fiction. Undying is a love story with extra bite, with a lot of intriguing threads and gallons of beauty to keep most people with a pulse interested to the end, With quite a few challenges up against it, Manhattan Undying showcases the height of the nightlife in more ways than one.
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