Night (2004)

Starring Shawn LaTang, John Hardy, Melanie Ginnett, Ronny Vega

Directed by Byron C. Miller

I just want to tell you guys, you have no idea how difficult it is to come up with a cool, quick paragraph that will grab the readers’ attention and convince them to read the rest of the review so often, especially when we’re dealing with two subject I’ve said a lot on already; indie films and vampires.

Perhaps that was enough to convince you to keep going on with this review of Night? I will tell you ahead of time, unless you’ve already scrolled down to see the Mugs O’ Blood rating, that it’s better than most, but not as good as I would’ve liked.

Night is the story of Mike (Hardy), a detective in a nameless city who is caught in an ugly situation in a bar one night. Luckily his partner is there as well, and they take down the criminal causing all the fuss. In the process a girl is shot, but instead of dying or screaming, she simply folds her arm over her chest and looks very…dramatic, I guess. Mike is instantly hooked, though it’s never said why they leave the scene so suddenly without, you know, arresting anyone or speaking to any witnesses.

Anyway, for whatever reason he doesn’t get her name or number, and becomes obsessed with seeing her again. He blows off his partner Jimi (LaTang, also his best friend, according to him) and his job and just stalks around the city and his apartment, slowly going crazy. Finally she makes contact again, and brings him into her world; that of the nosferatu, the creatures of the night, bloodsuckers, whampyri…you get the point. He’s a vampire now.

After getting over the initial shock of what he is and what he must do to survive, he actually gets to like it quite a bit. So when his partner starts asking questions of the right people and slowly discovers what’s going on, Mike’s not all that thrilled about being “saved”.

So there’s your basic plot. What works in the film outweigh what does not, making it a respectable, if not altogether original or interesting, addition to the indie horror subgenre.

First off, the saving grace for any indie film, the performances. Director Byron Miller realized the importance of a strong lead in any film and managed to score with his. The dialogue is well written if not a bit cheesy at times, especially when the vampires are discussing their lifestyles (why are they always so…depressed?), but you need to have a good personality behind the words to make ‘em work. Miller does, so on that front he shows good eye for talent.

You can tell Miller’s a director that has a lot of ambition to stage great action sequences. Unfortunately since its indie the action he does stage often seems a bit slow and clumsy, but there are some downright effective moves taking place here and there. It’s important to mention because there’s a lot of fighting going on, it’s just too bad his sound department didn’t have a better grasp on sound effects. Worst punching I’ve ever heard, honestly. But you can appreciate it for it’s heart and what it’s trying to be if not for the execution itself.

This is the kind of stuff you can get away with when you spend some time on casting and dialogue, really. If the action were clumsy on top of bad performances, this movie would be shit. I’ve gotten lucky over the last few indies I’ve seen that the directors actually paid attention to who was filling their roles instead of just bringing in their friends (and hell, if they managed to have good actors that were friends, more power to ‘em). Which means I’m overdue for something bad soon…

Now for some complaints; for a vampire movie, there sure aren’t a lot of effects to be had. Sure, there’s blood, but anyone with the right ingredients can make blood. I mean when people have their heads shot at point-blank range, there should be some visible damage, you know? In Night, however, you get the briefest glimpse of some thing red & glistening and that’s about it. Maybe they didn’t have the time/budget for effects, but what’s the point of making a horror movie about vampires if you’re not going to use ‘em? Maybe that sounds close-minded, but nothing helps an indie film look better to me than good, or even passable, effects. At least you know they tried.

The story of Night is, to me, it’s biggest issue. It’s just not all that interesting or original, and unfortunately it doesn’t do anything new with the vampires at its center. Granted, one can’t expect the vampire mythology to be re-invented every time a new vampire movie is made, but I guess I’m just sick of the same old thing. And if I hear a line similar to “some of the myths are true” from the mouth of another vamp, I will most likely explode.

There you go. Certainly not horrible, but just not all the engaging in the end. It does have time on its side, seeing as how it clocks in at a brisk 108 minutes and never really slows down from the get-go. Always a plus when you have a good editor, or at least a good sense of pacing since some of the editing was a bit messy here, as well. Another indie director with some potential, I just hope he gets to see it realized.

2 ½ out of 5

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