Immortal Obsession: A History of Vampires
Dir. Brian Cunningham (2023)
This artificial intelligence-made documentary discusses the history of pop culture’s obsession with vampires.
CAUTION: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS
I’ve reviewed one of these AI documentaries before, director Brian Cunningham’s previous documentary The UFO Chronicles: A History of Mysterious Sightings, and if you’ve read that review you know how much the concept of computer-created video showing what looks to be a human talking competently about a subject terrifies me to no end. The thought that, with just a little bit more proficiency, these computers could possibly influence world events by impersonating someone in a position of power is horrifically disturbing, an Asimovian nightmare that could end life on Earth as we know it. The downside of that documentary, and the only part that didn’t chill me to my core, is the fact that it was a little drab and boring the longer it went on. Yeah, it was comprehensive and entertaining for the most part, but it lost its steam about halfway through and felt like it lasted far longer than it did due to the repetitiveness of its concent.
Not so with this one, dear readers. Immortal Obsession: A History of Vampires is actually incredibly entertaining, excellently done, and a pretty comprehensive history of vampires in popular culture throughout history. Cunningham, who produced this documentary and cleaned up some of the artificial intelligence’s work to make it a bit more coherent, did a fantastic job of making something worth watching despite the lack of human involvement in the development process. There is occasionally a little something off with the delivery of the script by the AI-generated host, but other than that, it would be difficult for anyone watching to even suspect that what they were seeing wasn’t crafted by human hands. For artificial intelligence to truly escape the bounds of what we might have previously though it capable, it’s going to have to take steps like this to create things that are indistinguishable from something that would’ve been made by live producers.
The documentary is pretty all-encompassing, dealing with subjects from the historical mythos behind vampires and vampires in film and television from Edward Cullen to Dracula, from Buffy to Blade. The artwork is fantastic, though it does throw the audience off a bit when its discussing well-known properties yet shows artwork that is at best an artist’s interpretation of those properties. It doesn’t take away from the overall impact of the film, however, and some of the artwork is so damn good that it feels like an artist’s rendition of the popular movies or shows on which the picture is based. The film even delves a little into fashion and video games, helping to make it an altogether well-rounded presentation.
Brian Cunningham has a good eye for what works in film, and I say that having never seen any of his live-action, non-computer-generated stuff. I’d be interested to see what else he can manage when he’s actually behind the camera, because this was a legitimately fascinating and well-made documentary working with just Skynet. If you’re a fan of horror documentaries or vampires in general, I highly recommend renting this one on Amazon Prime, link included below.
Who this movie is for: Horror documentary lovers, Vampire fans, Discovery Plus addicts
Bottom line: As scary as it is to have a film made almost entirely by a computer, Immortal Obsession is a pretty comprehensive discussion of vampires in pop culture and is definitely a watchable primer for people looking to learn more about the subgenre of horror. Director Brian Cunningham does a great job of editing in this one, preventing the doc from becoming a slog of facts and monotony and delivering a fascinating and well-crafted documentary with a broad narrative about the subject. Definitely recommend for any fans of the legendary bloodsuckers. Check out the film on Amazon Prime.