An action-comedy in the jiangshi (hopping vampire) tradition, Vampire Cleanup Department concerns Tim (Babyjohn Choi), a nerdy loner who is bitten on the ass by a vampire and subsequently recruited by his rescuers, the clandestine government agency from which the film takes its title. On his first real mission, Tim meets the beautiful vampire Summer (Lin Min-chen) and, unable to properly dispose of her, he hides her in his home, inevitably later falling in love with her. But in actuality Summer scans more like a pet than a romantic interest; she doesn’t speak a single line and her spacey, vampiric otherness repeatedly infantilizes her. By saving and keeping Summer, Tim domesticates her, and renders her harmless. (Their initial, underwater kiss, which restores a sliver of Summer’s humanity, also results in the loss of one of her fangs.) This chauvinistic narrative is slightly complicated when Summer saves Tim—during a fight scene that’s directed, like the rest of the film, with only mild competence by Yan Pak-wing and Chiu Sin-hang. But when the ending plays like a joyous, supernatural riff on the climax of Marc Webb’s indie romance (500) Days of Summer, the film seems to double-down on its familiar wish fulfillment fantasies.
Published as part of New York Asian Film Festival 2017 | Dispatch 3.