Netflix’s take on vampires in “Blood Red Sky” is a refreshing reboot of an admittedly outdated monster archetype. When “Nosferatu” hit German screens in 1922, vampires were a fairly recent addition to popular culture. Of course, the creature had existed in folklore for ages, and the origins of the “modern” romantic vampire are rooted in John Polidori’s 1819 story “The Vampyre”, but Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” – the seminal story modern vampires – was only published in 1897. That’s just 25 years before “Nosferatu” shamelessly ripped off the story, defining vampirism in the process. Today, a century later, vampires are prolific in fiction – but very little has changed in the lore (apart from the questionable contributions of Stephenie Meyer). Heck, Netflix even released a new adaptation of “Dracula” (which first aired on BBC One) in 2020 – clearly Bram Stoker’s story is still very much in the popular consciousness.
“Blood Red Sky” responds to this by offering a radically different, yet more traditional take on vampirism. Nadja is a folkloric demon of yesteryear. Rather than handsome and charismatic, these vampires are more like vicious zombies – they don’t need to charm you into entering your home, nor do they live lavish lifestyles or have elaborate secret social structures. . She’s an aberration, clinging desperately to her last vestiges of humanity before her bloodlust invades her mind. And unlike most vampire stories of recent decades, the benefits of vampirism are far outweighed by the costs: her violent impulses rob her of her personality – represented by the gradual disappearance of her physical features, leaving her increasingly disfigured. and unidentifiable. It’s a surprisingly poignant commentary on violence – while allowing for plenty of deeply satisfying (and bloody) deaths.
“Blood Red Sky” is an undeniably unique vampire movie. It feels more like an action movie than a horror movie, but still manages to pay homage to the genre‘s roots – offering a clear homage to “Nosferatu” through the vampire design. Unlike the shiny, sexy bloodsuckers that define these films (even before “Twilight” made them shine), vampirism in the world of “Blood Red Sky” is a monstrous curse. It’s also potentially devastating – whether intentional or not, the film serves as a sobering allegory for pandemics: if Nadja’s “disease” infects others, it will spread rapidly and become an apocalyptic event. These are, of course, all familiar notes from the zombie genre, but it’s nice to see them used so effectively for vampires.