IT (2017)

IT

★★★★

Welcome to Derry. There’s loads to do here. Like go to the pictures. Or marinade in the small-town Americana. Or chill with a clown who wants to tear your soul apart. Yeah, Derry looks nice in the brochures, but people die at six times the national average here – and that’s just the adults. The kids have it way worse, as anybody who’s read Stephen King’s 1986 novel will know.

In Derry, a malevolent, shapeshifting presence feeds on young adults every 27 years and, in Andy Muschietti’s solid adaptation of King’s story, ‘It’ has resurfaced to target a fresh set of tweens.

As far as set-ups go, they don’t get much more elegantly unsettling, and Muschietti (Mama) knows it. Slipping into the director’s chair after Cary Fukunaga (True Detective) departed, his is a loyal translation that administers minor tweaks to maximise King’s lethal scares.

Aside from stripping out the book’s adult Losers Club segments (which will play out in the already-greenlit Chapter 2), the real masterstroke is relocating the action from the ’50s to the ’80s, which gives Muschietti the opportunity to update the monsters. Where King’s book resurrected many of the now oh-so-dated Universal monsters, Muschietti plums for smart psychological terrors that are gloriously unpredictable.

Yes, but is it scary? Well, Bill Skarsgård is certainly unnerving as Pennywise the Dancing Clown, ‘It’s favourite manifestation, and a segment in a flooded basement (sadly spoiled in the trailers) is nothing short of bone-chilling.

But IT isn’t really a horror movie. It’s an Amblin-riffing adventure in which its young heroes – all of them outstanding, particularly Sophia Lillis and Jack Dylan Grazer – tackle growing pains that happen to manifest in scary ways. It’s a film that owes a huge debt to Stranger Things (a show, of course, that owes a huge debt to King), playing more like a horror version of Stand By Me than the original ’90s mini-series starring Tim Curry.

So, yes, a trip to Derry is worth your while. Come for Pennywise but stay for the kids; they ensure that this is the most heartwarming horror movie you’ll see all year.

This review originally appeared in Crack magazine.

Spread the Rumer! How to support Vicious Rumer

3D-Rumer NO BGYour support for Vicious Rumer, which is OUT NOW!, has been truly overwhelming. Between your pre-orders, shares, reviews and lovely words, my shrivelled little heart has been warmed and renewed over the past few months.

A lot of you are asking just HOW you can help to keep spreading the Rumer, so here’s a handy post to give you an idea of what you can do…

If you do even one of these things, from the bottom of my chest cavity, THANK YOU!

Write a review!

The number one thing you can do to help spread the Rumer is leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads. That instantly pushes the book up those sites’ mysterious algorithms, thereby letting even more readers know about it.

Don’t worry, a review can be as short or long as you like (sometimes the one-line reviews are the best!), and it doesn’t have to be a work of critical genius. If you fancy leaving a review, here are the links:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Vicious-Rumer-Haunted-Hunted-Cursed-ebook/dp/B07CGVDQVW

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39291901-vicious-rumer

Thank you!


Share these!

If you’re on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest or even THE MOON, why not spread the Rumer by dropping one of these lovely quotes on your page?


Use hashtags!

Firstly, if you Tweet or Instagram about Vicious Rumer, THANK YOU. You’re amazing and I owe you a shiny bauble (or at least a social media follow) in return.

If you ARE sharing stuff about the book, please consider hashtagging that mofo to the heavens.

The biggies: #ViciousRumer #RumerHasIt

Others you can try: #YAlit #booknerd #amreading #bookworm #bibliophile #bookstack

And be sure to @JoshWinning so I can retweet you.


 Get arty!

The fantastic artist Eli Allison created this really rather brilliant (and only a little bit disturbing) graphic novel-style panel based on the first few chapters of Vicious Rumer. If you like it, show people! And if you’re an artist, why not do a little doodling yourself and chuck the results at me on Twitter! For now, though, really do go check out Eli’s site. She’s phenomenal.

Vicious Rumer(Click for hi-res)


Email your buddies!

Yes, some people still use email to catch up and stuff. So if you enjoyed Vicious Rumer and you’ve been meaning to email Cousin Gerald in Austin, Texas but you keep putting it off because, y’know, Cousin Gerald can be a bit weird, HERE’S AN EXCUSE TO DO SO! (I mean, I’m sure Cousin Gerald is great, but seriously, what is with that goatee?)

Tell Cousin Gerald this: Vicious Rumer is a YA thriller with witchy elements. It’s a bit Jessica Jones, a bit Lisbeth Salander, and follows a badass teenage girl who’s thrown into a world of gangsters and the occult. HE’D BE MAD TO MISS IT.

And share this link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Vicious-Rumer-Haunted-Hunted-Cursed-ebook/dp/B07CGVDQVW/


Retweet these!

Lots of lovely magazines/readers/authors have tweeted about Vicious Rumer (some of them even when it was going by the name Killing Rumer), so pay them back by giving them some support (and a follow!) and retweeting these.

If you tweet, be sure to @JoshWinning and use the hashtags #ViciousRumer and #RumerHasIt so I can find you!


Share banners!

Want more banners?! Well, if you insist… My good friend and amazing designer Louise Brock created this awesome postcards featuring one of Rumer’s more choice lines of dialogue. Do you love it as much as I do? Feel free to share far and wide!

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Killing Rumer update: blogs! blogs everywhere!

Hey all! Thought it was probably time I wrote another update on the Killing Rumer campaign at Unbound because (huzzah!) we’ve hit the two thirds mark! Thanks so much to the 146 people who have supported Killing Rumer over the past month, and continue to be calm, kind voices in the dark wilderness of crowdfunding. You’re amazing. I owe you all hugs and pubs.

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Innway, yes, we’re at 66%! We’re 44 days in to the campaign, which means I have 46 more days to hit 100%. Can you help? Why, thanks for asking! If you’re active on Facebook and Twitter, why not share some of the blogs that I’ve been squirrelling away at?

But wait, there are other things you can do to help get Killing Rumer in print and put a giant goofy smile on my face:

  • Share share share! If you have the time to email or message one person who likes quirky crime thrillers and kick-ass heroines to ask them to support the book, that would help HUGELY. One-on-one messages are the best way to tell people about the campaign, and be sure to include this link: https://unbound.com/books/killing-rumer
  • Tweet/Facebook/socialise to your heart’s content. Use the hashtag #KillingRumer and @ any of your book-loving buds. If you can share this banner, you might catch a few eyes (in a non-violent way): https://www.dropbox.com/s/dkoo0uxa3fldugq/Logo.gif?dl=0
  • Upgrade your pledge. If you ordered the ebook but you’ve decided you really want a paperback as well, that doesn’t mean pledging twice. To upgrade your pledge, simply click on the new reward you want, and rather than being charged twice, you’ll only pay the difference for the new pledge: https://unbound.com/books/killing-rumer

Oh yeah, did I mention I WAS IN THE PAPER! There’s my mug there in the Bury Free Press, looking a bit stern and stuff, but secretly smiling on the inside.

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Thanks again for your support. Until next time.

Support Killing Rumer by pre-ordering your copy of the book here!

Top 10 tips for crime thriller writers

FF 1As part of my blog tour to promote my new book, Vicious Rumer, which is available from Unbound here, I came up with 10 essentials for crime writers over at Female First. Check out their website here and read on below for my tips…

Decide what sort of crime thriller you want to write. It sounds straightforward, but genre can be flexible like plasticine; and that’s especially true for the crime genre. Are you writing a murder mystery? A gangster thriller? A heist story? A serial killer potboiler? A mixture of all four?! Knowing what sort of thriller you’re writing enables you to play around with tropes and shape something genuinely surprising.

Don’t JUST make it about crime. Sure, crime is an integral part of the plot, but the best thrillers have a lot more going on than that. Gone Girl is about mistrust and marital crisis. Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None is about injustice and vengeance. Aside from a juicy crime plot, what do you really want to write about?

What’s your MacGuffin? That term was coined by screenwriter Angus MacPhail to describe an object or goal that drives the plot. In The Maltese Falcon, the MacGuffin is the titular priceless artefact. In my book, Killing Rumer, the MacGuffin is an occult relic called the Crook Spear; but what is it and why does everybody want it? Those questions keep the action clipping along.

Write what scares you. Clearly, a thriller is nothing without thrills, so think about the things that get your heart racing. If you suffer from claustrophobia, trap your character in a coffin. If you’re scared of the dark, smash all the lightbulbs in your character’s apartment. By writing something that puts you on edge, you’re likely to illicit a similar response from your readers.

Who’s your hero and what drives them? Lisbeth Salander. Sam Spade. Clarice Starling. The crime genre is crammed with memorably flawed and fascinating heroes. What makes yours unique? Think about what shaped your character. Is she headstrong because she’s always had to fend for herself? Is he emotional because he’s lost so much? What is unique about your hero’s reaction to the plot’s sinister events and why are they so determined to uncover the truth?

Spend time brainstorming the title. An eye-catching title is the first battle for any book. Study the titles of books you love and ask why they work. For my book, I brainstormed a dozen different titles before I settled on Killing Rumer, which hopefully asks a question readers want to uncover the answer to. Then consider potential taglines: a title and a tagline should shake hands with each other. Chris Carter’s recent book, The Caller, played with a clever pun: Your life is on the line. If puns aren’t your thing, perhaps there’s a quote in your book you can use.

How will technology factor into the story? In a world of iPhones, CCTV, dictaphones and countless other technological doohickies, how is your story affected by modern life? How does technology limit or enable your character’s actions? Of course, you could eradicate that problem by writing a historical thriller instead, but that could open a whole new can of worms…

Don’t just read crime thrillers. Draw from everything and everywhere. Inspiration often comes from surprising places, so while it’s good to get a sense of genre by reading books similar to the one you’re writing, be sure to read around. Watch TV and movies. Read comics. Learn how to write different types of people and study why a story does or doesn’t work.

Speaking of, what makes your story different? This is particularly important when it comes to selling your book, whether that’s to a publisher like Unbound or to a potential agent. What’s the hook? Why should people shell out for it? What’s the inherent value of your story? If you’re able to pinpoint exactly what makes your story unique (its USP: Unique Selling Point), that’ll make talking about it to other people a lot easier.

Have fun! This crime stuff can get pretty dark, so don’t forget to bring a little levity to proceedings. Even The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo threw in a few snippy one-liners to relieve the tension, and lightening the mood in places can actually have the added effect of making the dark stuff more impactful. Frollo’s line in The Hunchback Of Notre Dame is especially apt: “Wait between the lashes. Otherwise the old sting will dull him to the new.”

 

Killing Rumer: we’re a month in!

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Hey everybody! How was your summer?! Over here at Camp Killing Rumer it’s been a bit of a whirlwind. The campaign to get the book funded launched on 1 August, and since then loads has happened. You lovely people pledged your support in huge numbers – as it stands, the campaign’s at 59% funded with 128 (I must say, rather beautiful) readers having contributed to Rumer’s story.

To all of you I can only say THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU. This character means so much to me, and you’re bringing Killing Rumer closer and closer to being an Actual Genuine Book. This is the stuff dreams are made of.

Had a busy month? Here are some things you may have missed…

  • The first review of Killing Rumer went live! The lovely Lynn at Book Reviews By Lynn got a very sneaky early review copy of the book, and her glowing review is up over here. In short, she said: Joshua Winning has written an intriguing crime thriller with a kick-ass heroine. I love his fast paced writing style, and the story flowed beautifully. He is one of only a handful of male authors who I have added to my favourite authors list and I can’t wait to see what he will come up with in the future.
  • Rumer joined Twitter! You can follow her here.
  • We have postcards now! You can get your hands on an extra special set of postcards (designed by the brilliant Louise Brock) when you select the ‘Awesome Extras’ pledge. (Already pledged but want the postcards? You can upgrade your pledge by logging in, at no extra cost.)
  • A few new pledge levels have been released! ‘Be Part Of The Story!’ gives you the option of having a character named after you. And with the ‘Superfan Special Collectable’, you can own a signed copy of my very first draft of Killing Rumer, complete with editorial scribbles (ooo, hello behind the scenes jiggery pokery).
  • I blogged! I wrote about the 5 women who inspired Killing RumerCheck it out over here. I also revealed a little bit about why I wrote the book in the first place – take a peek here.

There are other exciting things in the works, including a series of guest blogs around the internet, all to help get Rumer’s name out there.

So yes, you’ve all been fantastically supportive over the past month, and I’m so, so grateful. If you want to help even more, please do share this link with your book-loving friends and family members: http://unbound.com/books/killing-rumer Why not chuck them an email today?

Here’s to hitting 60% and beyond!

Pre-order your copy of Killing Rumer here!

5 women who inspired Vicious Rumer

1. Nancy from The Craft
I had a picture of Fairuza Balk (actually, the one above this text), aka Nancy, on my desktop all the way through writing Killing Rumer. It’s not so much that Rumer is like Nancy – rather, I wanted Rumer to possess the same dark humour and edge-of-crazy personality as Nancy. They’re both outsiders, slightly unhinged and believe in something dangerous. Also, they both have black hair.

2. Stevie Nicks…
…and Crystal Visions, the compilation of her biggest hits. That album both inspired, chilled and nursed me through Killing Rumer – so much so that I, of course, HAD to make Rumer a fan. I’ve been a little bit obsessed with Stevie ever since I saw a tiny indie film from 1998 called Edge Of Seventeen, and her music is perfect for Rumer; ethereal, weird, haunting. It has it all and then some.

3. Holly Hunter in Top Of The Lake
Shocking revelation – I’ve only seen the first episode of this (ducks). I know I know. BUT the thing that really made me sit up in that first episode was Holly Hunter and her ghostly silver hair. Without her, I wouldn’t have created one of the main characters in Killing Rumer – the image of Holly’s wise-but-wary loner stuck with me throughout writing and I couldn’t be more grateful.

4. Daphne du Maurier
Nobody writes women like Daphne du Maurier. Strike that, nobody WRITES like Daphne du Maurier, and I’d be an idiot to try to, but she’s been a literary hero of mine ever since I devoured Rebecca as a teenager. Killing Rumer is nothing like that book (I mean, what is?), but it certainly inspired me to tackle writing in the first person, something I’ve never attempted before. If I failed, I blame Daphne.

5. Joan Jett
Alright, maybe not quite as ‘kooky cool’ as Stevie Nicks, but her song ‘Bad Reputation’ is anthemic for a reason (and not just because it’s the Freaks And Geeks theme tune). Those lyrics and that guitar really helped get me into ‘angry teenager’ mode for the book’s all-important flashbacks. Without them, Rumer wouldn’t be half as badass.

Pre-order your copy of Vicious Rumer here!

Killing Rumer is 25% funded!

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Newsflash from the Killing Rumer campaign – we’re 25% funded! Yes, we’re a QUARTER of the way there! Slow-mo high fives and tears all round.

Thank you so much to everybody who has supported the campaign so far, whether pre-ordering a copy, sharing on social platforms, or lending words of advice/comfort (delete as applicable) when my nerves wobbled. I’m overwhelmed and grateful.

So, yes, we’re at 25% and it feels good (music cue: James Brown), but there’s still 75% left to go. Want to help with spreading the Rumer? Here are some handy tips:

  1. Share share share! If you have the time to email or message one person who likes quirky crime thrillers and kick-ass heroines to ask them to support the book, that would help HUGELY. One-on-one messages are the best way to tell people about the campaign, and be sure to include this link: https://unbound.com/books/killing-rumer
  2. Tweet/Facebook/socialise to your heart’s content. Use the hashtag #KillingRumer and @ any of your book-loving buds. If you can share this banner, you might catch a few eyes (in a non-violent way): https://www.dropbox.com/s/dkoo0uxa3fldugq/Logo.gif?dl=0
  3. Upgrade your pledge. If you ordered the ebook but you’ve decided you really want a paperback as well, that doesn’t mean pledging twice. To upgrade your pledge, simply click on the new reward you want, and rather than being charged twice, you’ll only pay the difference for the new pledge: https://unbound.com/books/killing-rumer

Once again, from me and Rumer, thank you thank you thank you!

Pre-order your copy of Killing Rumer here!

Help get my new book Killing Rumer published with Unbound!

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For the past few years I’ve been beavering away at a secret book project – and today I’m dragging it kicking and screaming out of the closet!

Killing Rumer is a quirky thriller about a teenage girl tipped into a world of gangsters and the occult. It’s dark, weird and (hopefully) funny. It’s about belonging and friendship and loneliness. It mixes The Craft with The Maltese Falcon, Jessica Jones and Final Destination. (See. Weird.)

So here’s the thing. Today, we’ve launched the Killing Rumer campaign over at Unbound. If you’re not familiar with Unbound, here’s the deal: it’s a UK publisher in which authors help to raise the funds to publish their book. We spearhead a campaign and ask fellow readers, friends, family and coven members to help get the book published by pre-ordering a copy – and perhaps signing up for some of the awesome bonuses that go with helping an author fulfil their dream.

I’ll be honest, I have no fingernails left and I’m comfort eating chocolate until I’m sick but that’s OK because WE’RE LIVE. This is not a drill! Klaxon and loud fireworks ahoy!

But yes, I need your help. Want to support Killing Rumer and bold new fiction? Here’s what you can do:

  1. Share this link: http://unbound.com/books/killing-rumer
  2. Post this logo (and a link to Unbound) on Twitter/Facebook/Pinterest: https://www.dropbox.com/s/dkoo0uxa3fldugq/Logo.gif?dl=0
  3. Email/text friends who love reading, kick-ass heroines, twisty mysteries and even twistier narratives.
  4. Pre-order! If Killing Rumer sounds like your sort of book, you’ll be helping to get it published by pre-ordering your very own copy. There are loads of cool bonuses, including naming a character, having your own name appear in the book (as a thank you) and you can even choose to let me loose on your manuscript. Be afraid.
  5. Write about Rumer! If you have a blog, please feel free to post about the Killing Rumer campaign. I’m happy to answer Q&As and write for you, just get in touch via https://joshuawinning.com/contact/

So that’s it. We’re off. Rumer’s ready to take her first steps into the world. Here’s hoping she makes it to the finishing line. My fingernails really can’t take any more.

Pre-order your copy of Killing Rumer here!

M.R. Carey interview: Fellside

promobannerIf you’ve read The Girl With All The Gifts, you’ll know a thing or two about M.R. Carey. The one-time comic-book writer and all-round awesome guy hit literary pay dirt with his 2014 genre-blender, which has already been made into a blockbuster movie starring Gemma Arterton and Glenn Close (it’s ace, go see it). And because he’s a self-confessed write-a-holic, Carey (Mike to his friends) has already released his next novel, the equally unputdownable Fellside. Set in the titular prison, it follows new inmate Jess, who’s haunted by the memory of the night she accidentally killed a little boy during a drug-fuelled rage. Incarcerated and terrified, she starts hearing voices – could the little boy have followed her to Fellside? (Yeah, I got chills.)

I was able to chat to Carey about his new book as part of his promo blog tour. Here’s what he had to say…

Where did the name Fellside come from?
I just wanted a name for the prison that had a Yorkshire flavour to it. I love the word fell. I particularly love how ambiguous it is. It means a high place, but that could be a mountain or it could be a piece of moorland high up in a range of hills. There’s no absolute sense of physical orientation to it. So it’s a good name for a place where you lose your moral orientation, where you lose your way as my protagonist Jess very definitely does.

What makes prison such a good setting for a story?
I think it’s the fact that your characters are locked in together and there’s no easy way out. Every story ultimately comes down to the clash of personalities and the inexorable working out of the logic of a given set of relationships. If you put your characters in an enclosed, hothouse environment with no way out, you compound and concentrate that effect. A prison is just one example.

How does Fellside compare to The Girl With All The Gifts?
I think it’s a darker book. That sounds a little strange, given that Girl is post-apocalyptic and includes the virtual annihilation of the human race, but I believe it’s true all the same. In Fellside there’s a lot of pain to go around, and Jess’s journey is harder and more traumatic than the journey Melanie has to make.

That said, both stories are optimistic about human nature. They find grounds for hope, let’s say, even in the most unpromising situations. Jess things she’s buying redemption for a terrible crime, and although she’s deeply mistaken about what exactly she’s doing and who she’s doing it for, she does achieve a kind of peace and a kind of accommodation with her own past. And the last chapter revisits that past in a way that hopefully will surprise a lot of readers.

Did you want to play with ghost cliches the way you played with zombies in Gifts?
Not really. I mean, challenging genre conventions wasn’t the point with either book. You always want the story to feel fresh, obviously, and so you reject some ideas just because they’re overly familiar. But that doesn’t present itself as the core of what you’re doing. With Girl the core idea was Melanie herself. Inventing her and fleshing her out was a big part of the groundwork for the story. Deciding on Cordyceps as my McGuffin didn’t feel anywhere near as important, although I was happy to find a vector for the zombie apocalypse that hadn’t already been worked to death.

At rock bottom Fellside is a story about addiction. About what it does to you, about getting free of it and then about trying to find the part of you that’s still you at the end of that process.

If you could lock two characters from two of your stories in a room together, which ones and what would happen?
Probably Dr Caldwell from Girl and Harriet Grace [from Fellside]. They’re both the heroes of their own internal narratives, but I think they’d see through each other’s bullshit in some very interesting ways. It probably wouldn’t end in physical violence, but they’d both come away effectively dissected.

Best story idea you’ve had that scared the hell out of you?
I don’t think I can get scared by my own stories. It’s like trying to tickle yourself – your nerve endings don’t work that way. But conceptually the scariest thing I’ve ever written is probably Pullman’s artificial hand in The Unwritten. If it touches you, you stop being real and become a story. You literally melt into words. That’s not something I ever want to experience.

Ever had a day you categorically couldn’t, wouldn’t (and maybe shouldn’t) write? What did you do?
No, everything is fair game. The more extreme, the more interesting. Obviously you don’t say which bits of your work are autobiographical…

Do you have writing habits and/or a routine, or does it depend on the day?
I wish I had a routine. I work long hours, start early and finish late most days, with maybe one day or half a day off at weekends. But I don’t work consistently. I’m easily distracted, waste a lot of time here and there on footling things, and then I have to make up the time by working late into the evening.

A colleague of mine at Luton Sixth Form College back when I was teaching said that when she watched me work the word that came into her mind was entropy. I asked her what she meant and she said “A whole lot of energy burning away into a vacuum.” She had me bang to rights. I’ve been very productive as a writer, but it’s been at the expense of everything else. I really do not have a life. I work and I sleep.

But I enjoy what I do, so it would be crazy to complain.

Review that left you grinning? Review that scarred you for life?
One of my Twitter friends described Fellside as “orange is the new Woman In Black.” I liked that a lot.

Bad reviews always make me unhappy, but I can’t remember any that have affected me for longer than a day. You wake up the next morning and go back to what you do. If the review was fair you even learn from it, and if it wasn’t you shrug it off that much quicker.

Best and worst X-Men characters to write for… Go!
Best would include Rogue, Beast, Cyclops, Professor X… You know, when I think about it the two lists would be almost identical! What matters is whether the editor is letting you play out the riffs and arcs you’ve got a real feel for, and I was very lucky in that respect. Mike Marts, Nick Lowe, Andy Schmidt, Daniel Ketchum. Best in the business.

And when you come right down to it a lot of the characters I loved best when I was writing in the X-verse were the minor ones who nobody else was using. I loved to dust them off and put them back in the spotlight.

Any unfulfilled writing dreams?
At this point, literally none. But there are still some comics artists I’d love to collaborate with. Top of that list would be David Beauchard, who wrote and drew Epileptic.

Fellside is out now.

Byzantium (2013)

ByzantiumThe shadow of Twilight stretches inexorably over Byzantium, an otherwise handsome vampire drama that marks director Neil Jordan’s return to familiar bloody turf 17 years after he made Interview with the Vampire. Giving neck-chewers back a little bite, Byzantium’s seedy, moody, bloody opening salvo attempts to reclaim the fangified undead from the tween crowd. It just about succeeds.

In a neon-blasted strip club, Clara Webb (Gemma Arterton) performs a lap dance in fishnets and heels. Meanwhile, her daughter Eleanor (Saoirse Ronan) encounters an old man on their estate and goes back to his house. Within minutes we’re treated to a thrilling foot chase, some frantic blood-sucking and a spectacularly-staged beheading as this mother and daughter are revealed to be vampires.

Ronan provides lyrical narration (“love confounded her”) while Arterton is engagingly forthright (she’s a vampire and a vamp, hoho). Their relationship is, unsurprisingly, somewhat fraught, especially given they look more like sisters. Things simmer down, though, when Clara and Eleanor head to a sleepy seaside town and take up residence in a rundown hotel. As Clara establishes a brothel to pay the bills, Eleanor struggles with their secret and drip-feeds us the duo’s centuries-spanning history.

More often than not, vampirism in movies is used to comment on everything except vampires – The Addiction used it as a metaphor for AIDS; Blade to tackle racism. Where Byzantiumtriumphs is in employing vampirism as a device that heightens a mother-daughter relationship. Much like the more cult-y Ginger SnapsByzantium’s script – by Moira Buffini, who adapts her play ‘A Vampire Story’ – uses neck-chewers to pick apart not only female sexuality, but also the power of the maternal bond and the effect that otherworldly forces have on human relationships.

Given this thematic richness, it comes as a surprise – and a disappointment – that Byzantium ultimately ends up favouring aTwilight-aping romance. While Clara and Eleanor’s fundamental differences are briefly investigated – Clara’s punishment of men who degrade women, Eleanor’s refusal to feed from anybody under 70 – a will-they-won’t-they dalliance between Eleanor and mortal boy Frank (Caleb Landry Jones) bleeds much of the narrative dry.

True, Ronan and Jones have great chemistry, and their romance does occasionally hit upon surprising poignancy, but Byzantiumoften zeroes in on this been-there-moped-that saga at the expensive of Clara and Eleanor’s story. Despite some intriguing early interplay, their scenes quickly devolve into snore-worthy slagging-off matches that belong in EastEnders.

With Jordan at the helm, though, Byzantium is frequently ravishing. Like Interview with the Vampire, this spiritual follow-up involves lush flashback sequences that have fun with vampire lore. And while the stroppy teenager angle is on the stale side,Byzantium is a resolutely adult horror story with interesting – if not revelatory – things to say. 3/5

Via Grolsch Film Works