We Want to Believe Augustus Gladstone Is a Vampire

The Immortal Augustus Gladstone - "Family Tree"

Augustus Gladstone is a pale, endearing and clumsily genteel middle-aged crackpot who claims to be a vampire born in 1856. And the “documentary” exploring the nature of his existence is partially filmed in Las Vegas.

In Gladstone’s bright and pleasantly cluttered apartment where he squats in a condemned Portland, Oregon, hotel, we listen to his firsthand account of the 1900 Paris Exposition, his discontent with a vampire support group and his efforts to map his family tree.

Gladstone becomes convinced he has discovered a living relative, a thin African-American man named Lucky Gladstone, who works in a Las Vegas casino. So he and the film crew hop a jet to McCarran Airport. But hilarity does not ensue.

Writer and director Robyn Miller,  co-creator of the 1990s computer video-game sensation Myst, keeps things vague and gives us time to reflect on the nature and relevance of belief.

In the film’s “person-on-the street” interviews, people are asked about life after death. One fellow explains that we don’t die, we just “go to the next level of life”; another believes we go to a “beautiful place, to be with God” but doesn’t believe in vampires, since they “aren’t anywhere in the Bible.”

Gladstone is so openly kind, we lean in to embrace any shred of possibility that he might actually be what he says he is. Jimmy Chen, Gladstone’s estranged friend, speaks for all of us when he says “I wanted to believe. I wished that it was true. I think I had happy delusions.”

The film is available online on April 1, for $5.59 at TheImmortalAugustusGladstone.com.