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Having taken abode at a country inn for the night, young Allan Grey
(Julian West) is awoken by an old man (Maurice Schutz), who hands him a
parcel and asks him to open it only in case of his death. Later that
night, being kept awake by strange, almost nightmarish visions, Grey is
somehow drawn to a neighbouring manor, where he sees the old man shot
dead. Upon opening his parcel, Grey finds it contains a book about
vampires, and he, who is soon asked to stay in the manor, starts to read
it. Soon enough, Grey sees the content of the book mirrored in the real
world, as a daughter of the house, Leone (Sybille Schmitz), seems to have
been bitten by vampires: She lies in bed almost bloodless, lusts for the
blood of others, and has weird bitemarks on her neck. Furthermore, people
who are supposed o be dead seem to wander the premises.
The doctor (Jan
Hieronimko) treating Leone is asking Grey for a blood transfusion, and
event hough the doctor has been acting suspicious, Grey agrees - but the
aftermath of the trtansfusion throws him into a horrible nightmare in
which he is dead and buried and wanders the premises as a ghost - yet his
nightmare might not actually be a dream but some semi-hallucinatory state,
as he finds out more and more about what's going on in the house, finding
another daughter, Gisèle (Rena Mandel) chained to a wall in a locked
room, a good deal about the doctor's rather sinister motives, and an old
woman (Henriette Gérard), who seems to have a haunting power over
everything that's going on.
Finally, Grey returns to the here and now
for good, finds the old woman's grave, opens it and drives a stake through
her heart, thus releasing Leone of her semi-vampiric state. And while the
evil doctor gets trapped in a mill and suffocated in flour, Grey frees
Gisèle and rows off with her ...
To understand Vampyr,
one has to understand first that the film is not so much your typical
genre entry based on an a tad formulaic narrative but a mood piece that
moves along at an intentionally slow pace with many a leap of reason, all
quite deliberate - and in that the film resembles more a nightmare than
your typical genre shocker. Add to this a camerawork that's best described
as lyrical, perfect use of simple cameratricks, and fittingly subdued performances
by the entire cast and you've got ... well, a masterpiece.