13 September 2011

Clarky's Review: Near Dark

Whilst this was Ally's reserve choice (his first choice wasn't delivered in time) it was a film that I was looking forward to ever since Ally had brought it to the table during the top 5 debate on his debut guest spot on the Those Movie Guys podcast. Unfortunately, it did not live up to the hype in my opinion.

Whilst there are many things I liked about the film, there were a few too many things that pulled me out of the movie and made me question some of the plot devices. Whilst I have no doubt that Fin will say that I am nit picking and that I can't just sit back and enjoy a film, I would argue that if a film isn't holding your attention then this is when little niggles start to stand out more and pull you out of the film. If this film had been good enough to sweep me away I'm sure some of these niggles wouldn't have been too bad, unfortunately some of the biggest issues I had were right from the off.

Firstly, I wasn't convinced by some of the acting at the start. Adrian Pasdar who plays Caleb is like a plank of 4x4 and by the end is has "matured" into Pinocchio - ie still wooden but not quite so bad. I'll be the first to agree that there are many films that we have watched over the past few seasons where the acting is questionable to say the least, but where this hasn't affected my enjoyment of the film. In the majority of cases these have been 80's films and comedy horrors (some unintentionally so - Friday the 13th I'm looking at you). This isn't that kind of film however, and because of this the film falls down for me.

Another major issue I had was why Mae decides to "turn" Caleb when she doesn't even appear to like him. Even if she does like him, and the acting was just so bad that I missed the subtle undertones, then why would you want to spend eternity with someone that you have only known for half an hour?

Once Caleb had turned the idea of hi still having morals and whether or not he could kill to maintain his lifestyle with Mae was interesting but never fully developed. Caleb is given 2 or 3 deadlines to make his first kill and never does it, but with no repercussion's. Why Jesse didn't just kill him like he said he would is never fully explained except that to do so wouldn't have served the remainder of the film.

We then have a stand off at the motel with a little girl, who turns out to be Caleb's sister - but we have seen so little of her that we don't know this or care particularly. Homer wants this little girl and instead of nicking her neck for a second, like Mae did to Caleb, he lets them get away.

After doing so however Caleb starts to burn up, literally, in the morning sun, at which point he is kidnapped by Jesse and his gang of vampires. They then decide that they want to kill Caleb. If this was the case, then why rescue him in the first place?

I also had a lot of issues with consistency in the film. In the opening 10 minutes the dawn nearly kills Caleb, yet after the bar scene they are all exposed to mid afternoon sunshine and seem not much worse off. It's not a major point I know, but by this stage little things like this were starting to grate because I found the 2 main characters so interesting. I couldn't have cared less if Caleb made it or not. Jesse, is the stand out character in this film, and it would have been interesting to go back to having a charismatic bad guy, just like the original vampire - Dracula. In the end, I found the majority of the characters totally unlikeable, and therefore I was not drawn into the film.

The final, and most shocking, niggle for me was the blood transfusion scene. Apparently vampirism can be treated by a blood transfusion. If this is the case, then can zombies be treated in the same way? What about the infected in 28 Days Later. And, in the real world AIDS and all other blood diseases can now be cured by a blood transfusion - yay! All we need to do is drain all the blood out there body, so that there is none of the infected blood and then put in fresh blood. Quite how the body manages to sustain itself with no blood is any ones guess (especially when a veterinarian has set up the operation), but what does that matter when you have to keep the plot moving!

There are a lot of cool shots, especially when the group are backlit, and some of the special effects are brilliant - Bill Paxton's burns in particular, and I really liked the smoke that started to come off the vampires when exposed to sunlight. However, some of the special effects at the end are shocking. I realise that these have not dated well, but the slow motion shots of Homer bursting into flames looked really bad. And whilst I know this may not have affected me as much had I seen the film in the 80's, I didn't. I saw it now, and it didn't stand up very well.

I'm glad I saw this film, and it did have a different take on the vampire genre, unfortunately none of the interesting plot strands were developed fully enough and there were too many plot holes for me to enjoy this film.


  1. I have to say as you predicted I do think this nitpicking of the highest order particularly the part about the blood transfusion.Surely you can't criticise a horror film for having dodgy medical procedures. If we are going down that road surely the fact the bad guys live off human blood and can't go out in sunlight is more medically troubling than a slightly dodgy looking blood transfusion. Also I don't see anything wrong with adding your own ideas to a traditional genre. Take 28 days later the zombies run yeah it was different but it worked for the movie. Take The Walking Dead comic series the zombies eat animals something they never do in traditional zombie folklore.

  2. I've no problem with a different take, if it works and is reasonable. And I have no problem with living off human blood - its a vampire movie. But it seems to be set in a realistic environment, and given that a 1 second bite infected Caleb's entire body, how would a blood transfusion do any good whatsoever! Ridiculous.

  3. How can you suspend belief enough to accept a gang of ageless marauding vampires and yet criticise a medical procedure for being unrealistic. Surely if one aspect of the film is a fantasy i.e. people who live off other peoples blood the idea that a blood transfusion may cure them is equally believable. It's like going to see a sci-fi and not minding the aliens but criticising the film for having space ships when we know that we don't have any space ship technology in really life its totally inconsistent.

  4. I have no problem if the film sticks to the rules it sets. Unfortunately this is not the case here. If vampirism is a blood disease then how can it be cured by a blood transfusion. Even if you think I am nit picking you still can't give me a decent answer to this.

    Even then when things like this are pulling you out of a film it is often an indication that the film isn't holding your attention or making you believe in the characters. I couldn't have cared less about Caleb, the acting was shan at times and there was no discernible plot.

    Even without the blood transfusion this was a bit of a stinker in my eyes.

  5. Don't get your obsession with the idea of vampirism being a blood disease. There is no point in the film that says this is a blood disease it is vampirism it doesn't exist why does it have to fit into the rules of existing diseases. I totally disagree on the acting I'm not saying it is amazing but we have defo seen lots of horror films with worse acting in it.

  6. I don't get how you can't see that vampirism is a blood disease. In almost every film it is used as a metaphor for a blood disease (syphilis at first and then AIDS thereafter).

  7. In some films vampirism is a blood disease not all just because it is used that way in some doesn't mean it is one in all film. I don't get how because aids can't be cured with a blood transfusion it is completely impossible with vampirism a made up completely fake condition.

  8. Or is it? That's what Peter Vincent thought too.......


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