A24 was established in 2012 with a specific objective in mind: to create films that challenged the whole entertainment industry, and to rekindle some passion for film.
Dreyer, who was already well-established as a director and enjoyed much recognition for his previous film The Passion of Joan of Arc, had a lot of work to do. He luckily received an interesting offer from one of Frances leading art directors: Nicolas de Gunzburg, who wanted to try his hand at acting; the two men set to work on Vampyr.
Allan Grey, a youngster who loves to drink, is ecstatic by a strange old man who visits his room one night and discovers the owner of a strange old man's book on vampires. He unravels the mystery parcel left for him to discover a book about vampires, leading Allan to realize there is something more terrifying at play that he must bring to an end.
It's a remarkable piece of cinema that is more in line with the emerging surrealist art film movement of its time; Luis Bunuel and Salvador Dali collaborated on two iconic surrealist films, Un Chien Andalou and LAge dOr, while Jean Cocteau explored the avant-garde with The Blood of a Poet. Such artists were breaking out and stepping out of the studio structure that had, until this point, largely governed feature films. They were also exploring
The horror side of A24's productions has a particular flavor, both in terms of composition and themes; the films tend to focus on human emotions, such as grief, loss, fear, and insecurity, while incorporating surrealism and visual styles that are inherent to the genre. So, when a shot is widely framed with plenty of visible background, the viewer is prepared for the inevitable ghost lurking around, or the sudden loud noise that will follow.
Vampyr is certainly a scary film by contemporary standards, yet there is an uncanny otherworldliness about it that is enticing. A particularly stunning sequence shows Allan having an out-of-body encounter, and seeing his own death and burial, as he is carried out of the manor, looking straight up at the looming structure and the murky sky above, and then finally bringing the nightmare to an end.
The role of ancient folklore in A24 horror films is a defining feature; from the overt to the understated, they touch on centuries past mythology and legends in striking detail, such as Midsommars depictions of pagan ritual, Hereditary depictions of demonic worship, and The Witches' clash of puritans and the antichrist.
Vampyr goes to great lengths to make something completely different, even if it means leaving rooms or walking or running. It lurks behind furniture and objects as if looking into them, and it creeps out as if to spy on them. This cannot have been an easy task to pull off very effectively, even if he didnt have studio money.
Where editing could have been used to enliven slapdash footage, a sophisticated approach is employed, with cuts carefully timed out and executed flawlessly to underpin the action of the scene. Here is a fantastic shot that is ahead of its time, in which Allan is about to thrust the stake (iron this time, not wood) through the body of the vampire to break the curse, and just as he swings the mallet downwards, we get a quick cut to the cloudy sky as the strike
The camera is crucial to constructing the uncanny dreamworld of A24 horror, both visually and thematically, with depth of field used to create an almost fish-eye effect. In a graveyard scene, Men uses a focus blur in the background to create a not-quite-right impression in the viewer. It is this Lynchean way of unreality that truly makes A24 horror so compelling: it is always looking to deceive the viewer by the smallest margin.
Vampyr and A24 have a significant sound component, owing to a forced reversal of silent film and talkies, which required more attention to title cards (in this case whole pages of a book) and musical scoring. A24 is distinguished for its long dialog-free periods, in which sound and vision combine to create a mood. The Witch enhances the themes and sense of dread with vocal accompaniment that sounds almost ritualistic.
The film's opening scene of Vampyr continues to subdue a ferryman carrying a scythe, implying some distant, diluted form of redemption, and an hourglass as a warning that time is of the essence. The internet has a slew of 'Ending Explained' essays that delves deeply into the picture.
Since the start of the 20th century, the film industry - and the art world in general - has reached numerous creative heights, many of which have been reactionary in nature. During this time, countercultural movements turned the art of film on its head, mostly in response to WWI. This was how dadaism developed; most people believe that the film industry has grown stale, lazy, or run out of ideas; thus, some works of the former might be seen as spiritual successors to the latter.