One of my favourite films from the 2021 Fantasia Film Festival is finally premiering as a Shudder exclusive. All The Moons (or in Basque, Ilargi Guztiak) is a dramatic fairy tale set in Spain near the end of the 19th century. It is the sophomore feature from Spanish director Igor Legarreta (When You No Longer Love Me), who co-wrote the script with Jon Sagalá (The Backwoods). The film received the Cheval Noir Award for Best Director at last year’s Fantasia Fest, as well as the audience award for Best International Feature and a jury special mention for its cinematography.
The year is 1876, near the end of the Third Carlist War in Spain. A Catholic-run orphanage is bombed by soldiers, leaving all the nuns and children dead except for one young girl (Haizea Carneros), critically injured under the rubble of what was once a sanctuary. As she cries out in pain, she is approached by a mysterious woman (Itziar Ituño, Money Heist), who offers to save her “with a kiss.”
“…even the most bloodthirsty gorehound will be pulled in by the beautiful cinematography and the compelling performances.”
The woman brings the girl back to her hideout, where the girl undergoes a full recovery overnight. The woman explains to the girl she has been given the gift of immortality, but it comes with conditions that she must follow closely, such as only going outside at night. She promises to teach the girl all that she needs to know and to be the mother she never had. But the next day, their hideout is raided by soldiers, and the girl is separated from her newfound mother, left to fend for herself in the wilderness with her newly acquired gift.
After spending a decade in a cave, the girl wanders out and discovers a nearby farm. The widowed cheese farmer Candido (Josean Bengoetxea, The Innocent), seeing only a hungry and abandoned girl, takes her into his home. He eventually adopts her as his own and gives her the name Amaia. For a time, Amaia is able to keep up the charade of being human, only sneaking out at night to feed. But the neighboring townsfolk grow suspicious of Amaia‘s behavior, and the local priest (Zorion Eguileor, The Platform) speculates that demonic forces are at work.
Photo Credit: Shudder
Aside from the moments of a classic vampire story, such as the killing of small animals and close-up shots of Amaia wiping the blood from her mouth, there aren’t many elements of horror in All the Moons. In the place of violence, we get a heartfelt story about the long life of a child vampire, made painful by creating close bonds with humans, doomed to die while she remains the same age. These emotional scenes are elevated by Pascal Gaigne’s classical score, bringing me to the edge of tears during pivotal moments. Fans of the vampire subgenre might initially bemoan the lack of action, but even the most bloodthirsty gorehound will be pulled in by the beautiful cinematography and the compelling performances.
Newcomer Haizea Carneros is fantastic as our protagonist. For a good portion of the film, she remains silent, yet her face emotes more than dialogue can ever communicate. Her pain is more internalized and she’s not as vocal about the annoyances of being a child for an eternity compared to others like Kirsten Dunst in Interview With the Vampire or Joshua Miller in Near Dark. Josean Bengoetxea adds a lot of emotion to the film as a character hardened by a tragic past, whose tough exterior is chipped away bit by bit by an innocent girl that he doesn’t quite understand, but grows to love. Zorion Eguileor plays the closest thing to a villain, instantly giving off an uneasy feeling with his raspy voice and his vaguely menacing stares. Organized religion does not come out looking good at the end of the film.
Photo Credit: Shudder
Since this is a period piece that spans decades, a lot of attention to detail was given to the costumes, the props, and the sets. The story is marked by some of Spain’s bloodiest conflicts, and although soldiers appear on screen for mere seconds, the director clearly made sure that their outfits and weapons were historically accurate. Setting the dialogue in the Basque language as opposed to the more common Spanish meant more audience members would have to read subtitles and the film would be harder to market internationally. But these risks were necessary in crafting a film as unique as All The Moons and judging by the awards and A+ reviews, it paid off in the long run.
At the beginning of the year, I made it my goal to watch as many vampire films as possible. Having consumed tons of trash flicks where vampires are depicted as inhuman monsters that must be slaughtered at all costs, seeing a coming-of-age tale from a vampire’s perspective like All The Moons is a breath of fresh air. It gives me hope that this once-exhausted creature can still be transformed in new and creative ways for years to come. A decade from now, I envision All The Moons being held up as one of the greatest vampire films of all time alongside Let The Right One In and A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night.
“I envision All the Moons being held up as one of the greatest vampire films of all time alongside Let The Right One In and A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night.”
Igor Legarreta’s All the Moons will be available to stream on Shudder on February 10th. Let us know what your favorite vampire movie is over on Twitter, Reddit, Facebook, and in the official Nightmare on Film Street Discord. Not a social media fan? Get more horror delivered straight to your inbox by joining the Neighbourhood Watch Newsletter.
Photo Credit: Shudder
Review: ALL THE MOONS (2022)
Vampires are often depicted as inhuman monsters that must be slaughtered at all costs, and seeing a coming-of-age tale from a vampire's perspective like All The Moons is a breath of fresh air. It gives me hope that this once-exhausted creature can still be transformed in new and creative ways for years to come. A decade from now, I envision All The Moons being held up as one of the greatest vampire films of all time alongside Let The Right One In and A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night.