Review: Not Like Others

Many movie genres are bound by unwritten rules and expectations, and finding new twists on vampire stories could be difficult. The Swedish film Not Like Others (aka. Vampyrer) does that by blending Scandinavian traditions with bloodsucking lore.

So many different types of vampire films exist that most of us feel we have seen everything the subgenre can offer. It may not be possible to completely re-invent the genre, but with Let the right one in Sweden proved they at least could give bloodsuckers a new spin. Vampyrer (meaning “vampires” – the film was called Not Like Others in foreign markets) is much lesser known, for good reasons, but is nevertheless another Swedish new spin on vein rippers. In spite of being a low budget independent film, it looks well shot for its budget and features good actors and an atmosphere that fits the story. Vera and Vanja are two sisters who live together, but they are not like other sisters. “They are not like us” they claim, thinking of everyone else around them. Unfortunately, “they” are hunting the girls so they get no rest.

This sounds like a good premise for an action-filled horror film, but Not Like Others does not fit that description. While there are a few action scenes, they don’t dominate and neither does blood, gore or violence. In stead we are treated with kitchen sink realism, a Scandinavian specialty, combined with a favourite subject in Sweden; young people feeling they are outside society and being depressed about it. Sweden may be one of the most advanced countries in the world, but youth depression is a huge problem there and if Not Like Others has any intellectual subtext, it must be this topic. Substitute blood sucking girls who feel uncomfortable in their lives with unemployed young men and women who feel uncomfortable in their lives, and you have a current and actual picture of Sweden.

Furthermore, it would be a pity if this isn’t the deeper meaning of Not Like Others. Without it and the vampire allegories, what is left is socio-realistic drama with little relevance for a horror audience. In fact, that’s still the case with the movie as it stands now. It’s not a popcorn opportunity and it’s not stylized to be eyecandy (it barely features any special effects), so its political and humanistic subtext is what makes it interesting to watch. Some people will call it boring and dull because of lack of physical action, but seen as 70 minutes of social commentary from the angle of two girls who need to drink blood, it’s a pretty well made piece of indie entertainment.

Rated 7 of 10.

Directed by Peter Pontikis.

Sweden, 2008.