A group of five young adults are all wealthy and bored in life. Each week, one member from the group selects an activity for them to complete, each attempting to allow the group to do something unlike anything they’ve never done before. One particular week, one of them arranges an activity that has huge life-changing consequences.
The group decide to take part in a nightime ceremony that leaves them all unconscious. When they wake up, they discover they’ve just taken part in a dangerous ritual, and the man responsible for leading it has mysteriously died. The results are horrific for the group of five, and they begin to notice major changes to their entire body, including two teeth that now look like fangs.
They all decide to go into hiding so they can learn more about the changes through conducting various tests, experiments and capturing video diaries. It isn’t long before they learn the ritual they participated in made them all vampires and they will soon crave blood. The question is, can they all adapt to the new changes or will their thirst get the better of them.
Visually, I found this film highly pleasing to look at, and it’s obvious the director has tried to be rather creative in certain areas to give the viewers an in-depth look at the situation and the experience of our characters. Unfortunately, some moments of stunning visuals with a combination of slow-motion or dream sequences isn’t anything exciting as it doesn’t assist with the film’s plot. Stunning to see, but nothing deeper.
While I love the premise and plot here, the film is far from perfect. One of the biggest letdowns is the lack of any back story or real character development for our five leads. Sure, we understand how spoilt and rich they are and they have moments where they are wise, but other than that, there’s no general reason given for the audience to care for any of these leads at any given point.
I enjoyed the film’s first act. While our leads have little back story given, I still found myself curious to see what would happen and how the story would develop. After the group undertake the ritual and discover what has happened, the story becomes uninteresting and messy. Our leads make unwise choices, we witness love triangles, and the characters wrestle with their thirst for blood. Many scenes feel disjointed, and I found myself questioning what on earth is going on. Sadly it’s a situation where strong and creative visuals are not enough to make this film come to life and create something highly memorable or pleasing. There is an attempt to deliver a surprising twist, but I honestly felt nothing at this attempted surprise- I had already checked out long before.
Overall, this is a fun concept which begins with a good first act but changes dramatically. While the film carries strong visuals and brings many creative ideas to the screen, sadly, there are also multiple issues such as poor character development, scenes that feel vague or disjointed and a disappointing twist that had no impact. With such a strong start, I’m baffled to see an uninteresting second act and third act instead of something greater than just fun and solid visuals. Dead & Beautiful (2021) is Available on Shudder from November 4th.