Night Junkies (DVD)
Directed by Lawrence Pearce
Distributed by Allumination Film Works
And here I go again, reviewing another piece of media focused around the one thing in this horror world that I wish would go away forever: vampires. Luckily for my sanity, Night Junkies is a far better film than most within the subgenre but still ... vampires. Ugh.
Set in the seediest parts of London, the story follows a man named Vincent (Alderson) who suffers from an addiction to human plasma. He needs the blood, once a night, in order to keep on living. Everything else about him is more or less normal; he’s fine in sunlight and can digest garlic with the best of them, but this overwhelming craving for our life-giving juices has made him a bit of an outsider.
The addiction is a disease, and before you can say Nosferatu, he’s passed it on to a dissatisfied stripper named Ruby (Winter). After a night of tender lovemaking (a scene that goes on just long enough to make one uncomfortable), she wakes up to find him attached to her neck by the teeth and, understandably, freaks out. But it’s too late for her, though luckily Vincent feels bad for what he did (be it feeding on her or allowing her to live, we’re not sure which) and is willing to help her through it.
But Ruby is missed. Maxi (Coyne), the owner of the strip club, sends out the maniacal Matt (Zagger) to bring her back. At the same time girls in the business of entertaining men for money keep being found dead, with some very nasty markings all over their body, indicating they did not die blissfully. Is it Victor? Ruby? Or some other vampire (a term thrown around a bit but never really given the push it usually does) out causing havoc?
It’s all very melodramatic, sure, but I’ll be damned if it doesn’t work really well, a lot of which has to do with the London setting and cast that help give Night Junkies a much grittier feel. Solid performances by all the leads across the board don’t hurt, with one exception: Giles Alderson. While he looks the part, he just never comes off as convincing in almost anything he does. It does him no service by working with a lot of actors who are exceptionally good at their job. Hopefully he learned a lot from them, but for Night Junkie it unfortunately just pointed a spotlight on his shortcomings as a thespian.
On the opposite end of that spectrum is Zagger in the role of Matt. He overplays the character to perfection, lending a maniacal glee to a role that could have easily been played straight and dull. One scene in particular in which he uses his tongue for way too long will have you either laughing your ass off or thoroughly disgusted. Hopefully both.
One of the biggest pitfalls of most indie films is when they try and get “real” sounding songs from local bands that don’t demand things like royalties. Such is, thankfully, not an issue with Night Junkies; the music throughout works and blends in with the background very well, accentuating when it needs to but basically just giving the film a fuller feel, which is what a good soundtrack should do. So score more points there.
Though it is a vampire story, there’s not a lot of blood to speak of. Don’t get me wrong; it’s not some bloodless PG-13 crap violence when it does come down, but Night Junkies isn’t about shocking its audience or trying to disgust anyone (well, except for that one part...); it’s a character study that just happens to be studying vampires. That’s one of the main reasons, in the end, I liked Night Junkies as much as I did; it never once tries to be something it’s not for the sake of pandering to the audience. There's enough drama, violence and interesting characters to keep even a casual viewer interested.
3 1/2 out of 5
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