Entertainment Earth


Dead & Beautiful (Review)

Director: David Varbeek
Writers: David Varbeek, Hugh Travers
Cast: Gijs Bloom, Anna Marchenko, Aviis Zhong, Philip Juan, Yen Tsao
Year: 2021
Min: 98

A group of rich, spoiled, good-looking, young people take turns picking the next adventure or form of enjoyment that they will partake in. After their next hang out, they wake up and see that they have been turned into vampires. This begins to change the dynamic of not just their friendship and way they behave with each other, but also in the manner that they lead their regular lives. As they decide to seclude themselves, at least at first. As they slip further into vampirism, the question becomes how far will they go, what are they will to do, and how will it affect their relationship to each other.

Dead & Beautiful is a 2021 dramatic horror film from the Netherlands and Taiwan. Directed and co-written by David Varbeek, this movie offers some new rules to being a vampire. It achieves these goals with various degrees of success, though. But, at least it does it with a ton of style, making for a visually arresting viewing experience. 

You see from the get go, Varbeek gives us a truly beautiful looking movie. It's one that makes a great use of the film's widescreen aspect ratio, taking full advantage of all its scope. The cinematography is absolutely breathtaking. At times, though, this makes it comes off as a case of style over substance. 

Still, at the very least, it is too gorgeous a flick to ever be considered truly boring. This despite the fact that the pacing is very slow. The emphasis, you see, is more on drama than genre content. It isn't until the third act, that it finally gets going. Or at least, it seems that way, for every time it gets moving the story stops again losing any momentum that it has built up. 

While low on actual horror, there are some good genre moments. For example, there is one genuinely creepy part, as one of them stalks a pretty girl who he sees working at a store. There are also some moments of humor, a couple of which are wonderfully dark. Another highlight is a simply marvelous scene where they go to a club, which might be my favorite part in the entire movie. The script by Varbeek and Hugh Travers is actually pretty ingenious adding some nice twists and turns. All of this fits the story that is being told, but it might piss off some of the more closed minded genre fans watching. Take this as a fair warning to those like this. I, for one, really like the sure to be divisive ending, though.

Since this movie focuses on rich assholes, its hard to like any of the characters. In fact, there are moments where they come off as the worst people ever. This is at first, though. For, as the tale advances, and we get to know them better, most of them become more likable. This adds complexity to their characters which fall under shades of grey, as opposed to being purely good or simply shitty individuals. The acting that brings these characters to life is very good. Philip Juan as Bin-Ray is particularly enjoyable in his role, adding humor to the flick. He comes off as funny and fun, especially after his turn into a vampire. Also, there is definitely a deeper context of the morality or lack there of spoiled, rich young folk like our main characters. As well as how they do things without thinking or caring and the results that those actions might have. 

Dead & Beautiful is one of the most visually stunning movies of the year. It is filled with stylish, gorgeous shots and an equally beautiful cast. Aside from fitting the second half of the title, the cast also do a solid job with their characters, which are complex and not always the most likable. That being said, it suffers from its  very slow pace. Anytime the flick looks to be picking up speed, it stops in its tracks all over again. Regardless, the flick does makes for a sometimes interesting morality tale. The script also has some creative twists and turns and ends on a high note, though not everyone will feel that it does. The movie might displease those looking for more straight up horror, something this movie is low on. The more open minded should give it a look, though, which they will be able to when it starts streaming on Shudder on November 4, 2021.