Vampirism and Motherhood
The film Blood Red Sky (2021) released on Netflix this past month is everything anyone could want from a vampire film and more. While it is advertised as a thriller, it is truly a drama underneath the horror and violence occurring on screen. The amazing aspect about this film is that it is so much more than a vampire monster film as it incorporates themes of motherhood, guilt, and remorse, as well as the very real fears of a hijacked plane. The film, originally released in Germany, incorporates vampire lore into the film in a newer, more modern interpretation that focuses on vampirism as a curse rather than a blessing, first introduced to film by Universal Studios in their Dracula adaptation Dracula’s Daughter (1936). The constant struggle of Nadja’s conscience over her disease is impactful and packed with emotion, leaving the audience in pain from the violence and chaos surrounding her. The most interesting aspect of this film, however, is not Nadja’s struggle to remain human, it is the love for her son that she struggles for that keeps the story interesting and unique up until the end. The awareness she has up until the end that she continues to fight for offers a new approach to vampirism as a curse and is the main purpose of this article.
While in other more modern vampire films, femininity and vampirism is often portrayed as evil that is fought off with remorse and guilt, despite ultimately being overcome by their unforgiving bloodlust. This idea has been portrayed throughout the centuries from Le Fanu’s Carmilla to Universal’s Dracula’s Daughter. However, the unique perspective offered throughout Blood Red Sky has never been explored as deeply in cinema as the film portrayed. While femininity has repeatedly rejected the willingness of vampirism to consume their lives, differently from male vampires, cinema has not fully explored the emotions that develop within these monstrous characters when childrearing is incorporated into their lives. In Blood Red Sky, the filmmakers do not start off the film informing the audience of Nadja’s condition, but rather let them experience how she came to be the way she is through her flashbacks as she dies on the plane after the hijacking. Only after she continues breathing and somehow pulls herself down into the cargo hold of the plane was the audience aware of some supernatural abilities. The filmmakers do, however, make it quite clear that Nadja has some sort of disease that can only be cured by a doctor in the United States. The audience immediately sees Nadja taking medication for this nameless disease that seemingly debilitates her, leaving her weak and helpless. Only later throughout the progression of the film does the audience realize this medication prevents Naja from turning into a vampire and craving blood.
The story of how Nadja came to be a vampire is absolutely heartbreaking as she recalls being bitten by a vampire that killed her husband one night in a snowstorm. The struggle of her trying to find a cure for her disease and the struggle of raising her son Elias shows just how difficult it is to be a monster and human at the same time. This theme has been portrayed in a variety of horror stories and films, the most popular being the story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, which the madness accompanied by being evil and good overtakes Dr. Jekyll, ultimately kills him in the end. Similarly to this story, Blood Red Sky explores what happens to individuals that are forced to live as two entities, one deeply evil and the other constantly fighting for good. Sadly for Nadja, the filmmakers decide on the same result, the madness of her vampirism overtakes her, forcing her son Elias to kill her. However, unlike the story of Dr. Jekyll, the filmmakers allow for the audience to experience Nadja’s struggle firsthand, seeing her life and feeling her emotions as she fights to keep her son safe from herself. This is arguably one of the hardest decisions for a mother to make instinctually and allows for an interesting discussion on how monsters raise their offspring.
As seen in Dracula’s Daughter, most of the time the offspring of these monsters (Dracula’s daughter in this case) loathe their parents. They usually hate their parents for the chaos and turmoil caused by their existence alone. However, this is not the case for Blood Red Sky which takes an opposite approach to this concept. Elias loves his mother, despite her monstrosity of vampirism and he does anything, up until the end, to help her and fight for her. He understands the struggles she encounters on a daily basis, from not being able to go outside during the day, to the medicine that makes her weak and unable to do anything. He loves her unconditionally despite her bloodlust which drives her to hurt innocent people, even him.
As in many vampire stories, when a vampire simply sees a human, their bloodlust is so overwhelming that it may cause them to hurt those they love, such is the case in Blood Red Sky. It is not in the vampire’s nature to fight their need for blood and so the fact that Nadja constantly fights this urge throughout the film is one of the most heartwarming aspects about it. She ultimately sacrifices herself for the love she has for her son and this incorporation of love into the film brings the piece together perfectly. Despite this love, however, the violence portrayed throughout the film makes it a true monster film and horror film. The graphic violence may be even too much for some experienced viewers at times.
Although Blood Red Sky is one of the newest additions to the German monster collection, it impacts the vampire story in such a unique way that it is sure to please the craving of vampires in any avid horror film fan. It is available for viewing on Netflix.
Blood Red Sky official trailer
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