Dead & Beautiful

Dead & Beautiful

2021, NR, 98 min. Directed by David Verbeek. Starring Anna Marchenko, Aviis Zhong, Philip Juan, Gijs Blom.

REVIEWED By Jenny Nulf, Fri., Nov. 5, 2021

Billionaires are vampires. This is the very obtuse, extremely blunt metaphor seeping through the glitz and dull glamour of David Verbeek’s attractively cast vampire drama Dead & Beautiful. His film opens with two women, Anastasia (Marchenko) and Lulu (Zhong), speeding down the Taiwan highways until they are forced to abruptly stop for an elderly woman crossing the road. A weird tattoo is splattered across her face, and her presence freaks them out. Is she an omen for what’s to come?

There’s a derivative elegance to Verbeek’s film. Dead & Beautiful never branches outside its core bored billionaire friend group. They lay limply around abandoned mansions, the empty space jarring to their extravagant existence. It desires to be kin to Jim Jarmusch’s Only Lovers Left Alive, but Dead & Beautiful suffers from a lack of engaging dialogue. Amusing quips only engage so much, and are wrecked by characters constantly referencing that their newfound lives as vampires are not reflective of the movies.

And certainly, the movie is beautiful. There’s a boy, Mason (Blom), whose cheekbones could put Gaspard Ulliel out of a job, Lulu’s sleek attire is enough to make any fashion addict yearn, and the sexual desire each character has for another is simmering. But there’s a hollowness to its beauty, as much as there is with its messaging. Billionaires suck the blood out of society, but we’re supposed to root for these kids of billionaires because, well, they’re different from their parents? It’s not their fault they’re rich, but there’s nothing in the film that echoes they are much different from their parents, even though they all wildly believe they are. Unfortunately, there’s no eating the rich when the rich have gleaming vampire teeth.

Available now to stream on Shudder.

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Dead & Beautiful, David Verbeek, Anna Marchenko, Aviis Zhong, Philip Juan, Gijs Blom

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