While the field of horror films is often bloated with low-effort swings at zombies and ghosts, the vampire subgenre seems to only have a handful of attempts every few years. Sometimes this gets you over-produced studio fare like Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter or Priest, but for every two of those is one Only Lovers Left Alive, a film that quickly climbed the ranks among the greats and which recontextualizes the lore and shows it’s a subgenre still worth exploring. Igor Legarreta’s All the Moons is one of those such attempts, digging more into the humanity than the gore of the premise and delivering a rich and haunting experience as timeless as the monsters themselves.
Young actor Haizea Carneros makes her feature-film debut as Amaia, a young orphan who finds herself at the mercy of a creature of the night during the last Carlist War in Spain circa 1897. A request for help sends her down a path of eternal youth and a hunger for blood but her time for discovery is cut short by the conflict, prompting a unique path down the steps of vampire mythology and bringing her to the doorstep of a lonely farmer (Josean Bengoetxea). As she seeks to redefine herself despite her affliction, Amaia finds herself on a journey unlike any other vampire narrative.
Where All the Moons really succeeds is by not holding the audience’s hand about what Amaia is capable of as a vampire, instead bending the rules of the lore to their breaking point to create an all-new dynamic for her character. Amaia spends years alone, learning the limits of her capabilities, but also getting to a place where things like the harmful effects of the Sun aren’t as bad. Legarreta handles this section of the material with ease and precision, passing time with an impressive visual language and command of the camera.
Though the story itself and the performances are near-flawless, it’s the production design and cinematography in All the Moons that get top marks across the board. These two things work in tandem throughout to create breathtaking imagery in every scene while also maintaining a sense of realism and tangibility in the story. When the entire story is about being caught between worlds (“trapped” as Amaia puts it), the film’s practical locations and natural aesthetics empower not only the story itself but also its themes.
Comparisons to Let the Right One In seem inevitable due to the main vampire character being a young girl, and there are perhaps some emotional beats that they share, but these are both wholly unique takes on the mythos and respective journeys. In fact, Let the Right One In is almost certainly more stringent and concerned with “rules” while All the Moons has its focus on using the vampire framework to push the narrative themes at its core.
Hardcore horror fans may slight the real lack of violence and gore in the film as making it lesser but All The Moons isn’t aiming for a bloodbath and is more akin to a fairy tale. The fantasy elements of the vampire mythology feel fresh throughout, but they’re bolstered by the careful attention that the filmmaker has paid to his story and where he’s telling it.
All the Moons is perhaps the most rewarding new vampire story in years and will easily find a place in the pantheon of “Great Vampire Movies.” Others can lay claim to having deeply romantic roots or exploring the inherently graphic power dynamic of these creatures, but All the Moons manages to bring a new seat to the table by fully committing itself to finding humanity.
Rating: 5 out of 5
All The Moons had its international premiere at the Fantasia International Film Festival, it does not currently have a US release.