Director David Verbeek leans heavily into the latter part of the film’s title. Strewn with stunning images throughout the Rotterdam cityscape as its backdrop in most places, whilst tantalising with the ‘Dead’ component.
Five rich socialites have gravitated to one another out of their boredom and unfulfilment of life’s medicrity and strive to spice up the dull elements with a shared mixture of experiences that challenge their vices and pushing them to the edge in order to feel something and awaken their dormant souls.
One night out quintet of rich kids descend upon a group of people who practice an ancient ritual that centres on the dark arts and a sacrifice. The group black out and wake to find a corpse and each bear a set of fangs. Instantly they are subjected to the notion that they have been turned into creatures of the night, forced to carry out vampiric means to satiate the growing thirst for blood.
The film flicks and flutters through their stifled emotions as the group becomes restless and unable to comprehend or handle this new way of life. With no guide rope to aid them in these new experiences, they are left flailing into the wind, reaching out for anything that may ground them.
Verbeek successfully captures the strengths and weaknesses of the characters as they both fall into each other’s embrace or thrust them apart with their responses or actions, amplifying their paranoia or loss of control. All of which slowly builds to a conclusion that leaves you questioning the blurred lines of reality.
Beautifully shot and complex characters intertwine through a deliberately slow narrative giving room to build up the central characters.
It’s a film that plays with manipulation and human conditioning at its core, where nothing is as it seems.
Like the key players, the audience is subjected to a fixed point of view that unravels and is picked apart to the point where you not only feel the trauma of the group, but just when you think you have it figured out, takes you in a completely different direction.
– Saul Muerte
Dead & Beautiful is streaming on Shudder from Thursday 4th November