All the Moons: Empathy In a Vampire Folktale

Haizea Carneros as Amaia - All the Moons - Photo Credit: Shudder

There’s a trend emerging in folktales from overseas, one that reconsiders the stories we’ve been told and tends to approach the lonely lives of the monsters we’ve been taught to fear. It isn’t necessarily a new angle. We’ve seen misunderstood creatures as far back as the Frankenstein monster, though what I enjoy from these new films is their perspective. Things in the world aren’t always black and white, and our monsters can exist in a shade of gray. Igor Legarreta frames All the Moons as a vampire film, allowing our misapprehensions and stereotypes for the genre to make assumptions about the plot. Instead, we’re treated to a fascinating character study about a young girl who doesn’t age and her journey to restore what was taken from her.

Amaia is seen in ragged clothes with a dirty face in All the Moons
Haizea Carneros as Amaia in All the Moons. Image courtesy of Shudder

Right away, I noticed direct comparisons between All the Moons and the recent Sundance festival film You Won’t be Alone. All the Moons was completed and began a festival tour in December 2020. While many may not have caught the film, it feels like it had a direct influence on You Won’t Be Alone, and it’s difficult not to notice because it almost feels like a carbon copy. In Legarreta’s film, we see a young girl, Amaia (Haizea Carneros), on the verge of death after her orphanage was bombed in late-nineteenth-century Spain. Yearning to live, she’s given the option to survive by a vampire (Itziar Ituño) passing through the destruction to feed like a vulture. Vampirism is never spoken of outright, but the audience gets the gist via context clues. Amaia’s new mother then tells her that they will roam the world together always, seeing All the Moons forever.  

Early on in the film, Amaia is left to fend for herself following an attack on her newly met family. Though isolated and afraid, Amaia overcomes the ordeal by forcing an immunization against the sun onto herself. It’s the first time I think I’ve ever seen a character change the rules on-screen in a vampire movie, but it imbues the viewer with an understanding of the things typically taken for granted. Vampires don’t have to present themselves as wild, bloodthirsty creatures. All the Moons pitches them as self-controlled and fearful, often showing Amaia as frightened by what she is while seeking acceptance in the village she later finds herself a part of. The film turns a long-running one-dimensional storyline into something more by arguing how different the experience is for a girl who can’t grow up or live life the way she wants. 

Candido comforts Amaia in All the Moons
Haizea Carneros as Amaia, Josean Bengoetxea as Candido in All the Moons. Image courtesy of Shudder

Amaia’s limitations present themselves in bloodless wounds. She is unable to understand the depth of emotion that comes from pain which she can only see expressed on the faces of her caretaker (Josean Bengoetxea) or the local boy who catches her when she spits out holy communion at church. Pain is a part of life, and after becoming numb to the sun’s effects, Amaia can no longer feel it. The complexity in the character development in this tale is earnest and affecting—and not only in Amaia. The more people we meet expose their motivations, some pure and others selfish, making for a scrupulous character study into what the human experience is. 

You Won’t Be Alone isn’t as warm in its origins, using harsher elements and characters to start and using witches instead of vampires. Other than changing some minor details within the story itself, the film is mirrored very close to Igor Legarreta and Jon Sagalá’s script. Both films’ stories portray a mute girl, storytelling that takes place over a long period of years, and a maternal figure responsible for the protagonist’s immortality, abandonment, and isolation. Both even take place in the nineteenth century. However, both films’ protagonists strive toward humanity and connection that links them even closer.

Amaia stands facing the edge of a lake in All the Moons
Haizea Carneros as Amaia in All the Moons. Image courtesy of Shudder

Mostly bloodless, All the Moons showcases beautiful cinematography and spectacular performances, far from your stereotypical vampire movie. Amaia’s immortality provides the supernatural catalyst to tell this story of not fitting others’ expectations and wanting to be who you are. Amaia proves we can be who we want, though sometimes we need to give it the time and persistence it deserves. The film treats life and its experiences as a gift versus the alternative vampire lifestyle. All the Moons also does a far better job connecting its story than You Won’t Be Alone, which is frustratingly disconnected to the point of contention, drawing comparisons to Terrance Malick’s Tree of Life. 

I can say, without a doubt, I prefer Amaia’s story and how director Igor Legarreta captures it in All the Moons. It’s not perfect, requiring viewers’ attention over long periods of silence. Still, it certainly feels like after having seen both All the Moons and You Won’t Be Alone, that All the Moons wholly influenced Goran Stolevski’s upcoming film. I hadn’t been able to pin down any of the film’s influences prior to seeing All the Moons, but much of Legarreta’s film seemed to have rubbed off on Stolevski. Whereas All the Moons has many influences permeating from it. Moments resembling Frankenstein, Let the Right One In, and Frontier(s) can be seen in multiple scenes and used innocuously enough that they’re subtle comforting nods. I think You Won’t Be Alone has some technical merit in the editing department as a more colorful feature. Though that film will likely win the popularity contest when it releases on April 1, I found that All the Moons is the more preferable film.  

All the Moons premieres exclusively on Shudder on February 10. 


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Written by Sean Parker

Living just outside of Boston, Sean has always been facinated by what horror can tell us about contemporary society. He started writing music reviews for a local newspaper in his twenties and found a love for the art of thematic and symbolic analysis. Sean joined Horror Obsessive at it's inception, and is currently the site's Creative Director. He produces and edits the weekly Horror Obsessive podcast for the site as well as his interviews with guests. He has recently started his foray into feature film production as well, his credits include Alice Maio Mackay's Bad Girl Boogey, Michelle Iannantuono's Livescreamers, and Ricky Glore's upcoming Troma picture, Sweet Meats.

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