Updated: Jul 15, 2020
Directed by: #DavidRuby
Written by: #SusanHarrison
Starring: Susan Harrison
Short and simple, the first instalment of the ‘How to Date a Magical Creature’ series explores a modern, comedic approach to romancing the most amorous of fantasy characters. No not the Gill-man, instead actress Susan Harrison improvises through a dating vlog over tips and tricks to successfully date a vampire. From Dracula to Buffy there is an ingrained romanticism to the creatures in our pop culture, brooding seducers with tragic pasts, a fantasy that somehow the beast within could be tamed by love until they inevitably prey upon you. Now exploited more in the modern age as teen drama through Godawful books and tv shows, vampire lore and clichés are given a tongue and cheek makeover in this amusing comedy short.
Harrison portraying ‘vampire dating’ expert Catriona Gunningforit (amazing name) takes the audience through quick steps on the do’s and dont’s of dating vampires. The direction the short takes it expected, with the references and punchlines taking the most obvious routes but Harrison’s bubbly charisma keeps everything in good spirits. Taking advantage of the vlog/influencer aesthetic makes the idea feel fresh, it has that whimsical approach in performance and presentation that hooks the audience in. Just like popular social media content, How to Date a Vampire is quick but direct, with all the advice Gunningforit gives made believable in its grounding of her character and treating the idea of dating a vampire-like the latest trend rather than getting bogged down in any fantastical exposition. Vampires are real and they have dating apps, don’t worry about it!
Most of the short features Gunningforit applying her makeup, stating she needs to look “lively” to seem more attractive to her undead beau. Quips about how important it is to “look alive” for vampires ties into the vanity of dating blogs and the peculiar ways people will make themselves seem more desirable. The sight gag of Gunningforit applying makeup to accentuate her neck veins is one of those golden moments where the gimmick of the idea works perfectly. The whole short is kept in the same frame but Harrison’s continuous makeover keeps that all-important action going, drawing the audience deeper into her logic and world. Production design from Sorcha Bloom Dunphy has classic references such as a coffin-shaped makeup pad, goblets and a bulb of garlic which Harrison hilariously demonstrates as a dating deterrent as if it were mace. Every piece of makeup has a justification tying into vampire lore and its amusing to see how Harrison keeps her character both ditzy yet adept in vampire seduction.
There’s not much to it but rather than drag out this niche idea and beat it to death until we hate it, Harrison and creator David Ruby keep How to Date a Vampire concise and charming. Its a fictional premise but the performance makes it feel real, that everything we’ve been told would actually be helpful if we ever found ourselves on a tinder date to a remote castle in Transylvania.