Struggling screenwriter Nam Gyu-jeong (Choi Yoon-yeong (최윤영) has multiple dilemmas to contend with. She has a huge crush on her best friend’s boyfriend, the local police officer; her divorced parents are both behaving mysteriously; her laptop has died and she cant afford to replace it; and a disquieting, black-clad new tenant has begun staying in her father’s building. As Gyu-jeong begins researching for her next project involving a vampiric protagonist, she becomes convinced that the enigmatic stranger known as Gang Nam-girl (Park Jeong-sik (박정식) is also a bloodsucker due to his aversion to sunlight and distaste for garlic…or he could be just plain weird. As Gyu-jeong seeks the truth about Nam-girl and the assortment of people in her life, the comical situations that arise help her to discover the path of love is often far from smooth.
You Are My Vampire (그댄 나의 뱀파이어) is a quirky romantic comedy that is unfortunately lacking in both areas. The comedic scenes that emerge throughout the course of the film are entertaining enough to be smile inducing – for example the mystery man’s name is Gang Nam-girl (Gangnam girl) – yet rarely offers more, while the burgeoning romance between Gyu-jeong and her ‘vampire’ is forced to the point of being contrived. The reason for this ultimately belongs to array of supporting characters who number far too many, and director Lee Won-hoi’s (이원회) desire to give each of them a narrative arc forces You Are My Vampire into a film comprised of a series of vignettes rather than a compelling whole with a strong emotional core. The rom-com does display hints of the madcap narrative devices that made How to Use Guys With Secret Tips such a thrill, but unfortunately they never extend into something provoking the same kind of enjoyment.
While the comedy tends to prompt titters rather than laughs, You Are My Vampire also offers some stimulating social issues through the supporting cast. Gyu-jeong’s parents are divorced yet remain friends, and the jokes that arise between the three of them are refreshing compared to traditional Korean rom-com fare. Similarly Gyu-jeong’s crush on her best friend’s boyfriend and the resulting dilemmas are conveyed without the pretense and melodrama inherent in other stories, while Nam-girl’s sad history and the storyline involving Bangladeshi friend Mabub are welcome. However, Mabub is also the victim of a racially offensive joke regarding his armpit odor, which is uncalled for and very disappointing. As the comedy gently continues, You Are My Vampire falls into the trap that often blights Korean rom-coms by incorporating a heavy dose of melodrama to force narrative closure. It’s an unnecessary addition, but luckily director Lee quickly moves focus back to the central couple and their unconventional attraction to each other.
You Are My Vampire (그댄 나의 뱀파이어) attempts to capitalise on contemporary culture’s fascination with supernatural love stories, by offering a decidedly quirky rom-com between a struggling screenwriter and man who displays all the hallmarks of vampirism. Director Lee Won-hoi (이원회) employs quite gentle comedy throughout that provokes sniggers rather than laughs, while the over-abundant supporting cast force the film into a series of vignettes rather than a compelling whole. While the approach to social issues is refreshing, the contrivances and lack of strong emotional core make the rom-com a mildly entertaining experience.