Martin, 1977 – ★★★★

“Nosferatu! First I will save your soul then I will destroy you.”

Much like Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, Martin takes on the subject of vampirism in a similar ‘Let’s say we’ve got a realistic world and we add this concept. What would happen?’ way. It bends the myth through a lens of skepticism and keeps it boxed into reality with great character studies and skits.

Martin is an 84-year old vampire who goes to stay with his cousin and his cousin’s granddaughter.

Martin is depicted as such a youthful – almost an awkwardly spotty teen – person that it’s hard to see him as anything approaching an ancient immortal but it actually makes some sense given the mythology.

“People are the hardest thing…They don’t talk, really…They have the other, the sexy stuff, whenever they want it…I’ve been much too shy to do the sexy stuff. I mean do it with someone who is awake. Someday maybe I’ll get to do it awake without the blood part.”

Although Martin is obviously a criminal throughout, the most significant battle in the movie is between old and new, elderly and young, religion and liberalism, magic and science etc. you get the point.

The soundtrack varies between amateurishly simple piano chords, cheesy bobbing quartets, and modern experimental soundscapes. It’s fitting but oftentimes feels a little cheap.

The movie’s colour and quality is tea-stained and dirty, with slight ghosting between frames, somewhere between an old BBC children’s drama and a grainy snapchat filter. I’m not sure if this is as it was in cinemas or if it’s the result of transferring from an old reel. The regular use of handheld cameras also gives a news documentary appearance to most outside footage.

A lot of audio is dubbed; the dialogue is fairly good and the environmental sounds are usually fine when they don’t sound like analog Dr Who loops but some sound effects and Foley work stand out as being unrealistic or out of sync.

Martin, although demonstrably a skeptic (he does a magic trick at dinner to prove this), acts like he’s mute, socially inept, and shyly curious around people he meets for the first time.

The movie’s thoughtfully modern take on the depiction of vampires, like a good skeptic, avoids any magic; our titular vamp is like a methodical sleeper cell agent when it comes to satiating his bloody need, yet he is always dogged psychologically by echoing memories of a past formative life of analogous situations.

“I wish somebody would kill me. It’s been a long time for me. A long time full of crazy people.”

Martin does not like what he does and people getting in his way only make his endless life worse.

“I’m pretty careful about not getting caught now… I have good tools. I have the needles.”

Martin is a bit slow and dreary in parts but I think it creates a deliberate comparison between the excitement we see in vampires committing their ‘acts’ and the monotony of living through eras of humanity generally unaffected by others.

Great ending and credits.

“What happened to the count!!?”

from Letterboxd – Daniel Pratt