Writer/director Michael Almereyda’s art house take on Bram Stoker’s Dracula called Nadja (1994) is a black and white experimental film that won’t be for everyone. Elina Lowensohn is Nadja, a vampire with family ties to the infamous Dracula clan, living a bohemian existence while killing people and drinking their blood to surface. She is estranged from her twin brother Edgar (played by Jared Harris) and their father has just died at the hands of Dr. Van Helsing (Peter Fonda). Thrown into the mix is Helsing’s nephew Jim (Martin Donovan) and his girlfriend Lucy (Galaxy Craze) whom has become the object of Nadja’s current obsession.
The film loosely follows the events of the novel as Helsing must destroy Nadja before she completely turns Lucy and true evil is set upon the world. Almereyda’s style for the film is very minimal and highly stylized as he makes the best of his limited budget and locations. The true allure of the film is Lowensohn’s performance as she holds the whole film together amidst the eccentric Fonda and his hammy Helsing or the too subtle Donovan who seems more undead than Nadja herself.
Almereyda manages to keep the proceedings going amidst the film’s shortcomings and he provides enough original ideas to make it worthwhile but the style may turn off a few fans of the vampire genre wanting something more. The film is more concerned with trying to tell a modern vampire story using an old story and it does so without becoming too campy or buried within its excesses. It’s an interesting little oddity of a vampire film that may not be for everyone but it is an interesting little film.