johnlink ranks NOCHNOI DOZOR (NIGHT WATCH) (2004)

I’m averaging one well-received foreign vampire movie a year, I guess. Last year was the great LET THE RIGHT ONE IN. This year, NIGHT WATCH. I’d heard of this one awhile, but had never tracked it down. Now, I’m going to have to find its follow up, DAY WATCH. Maybe that will be my foreign vampire movie of 2011.

I watched NOCHNOI DOZOR (NIGHT WATCH… 2004) on 11.22.10. It was my first viewing of the film. TRAILER HERE

So this is a Russian flick which pits Light versus Dark. They’ve come to a truce, and the Night Watch and Day Watch officiate this truce. There are also those called Others who have unique supernatural abilities. They choose to be light or dark, and help (or hinder) the neutrality of this mess.

This is the story of a Light Other (Konstantin Khabenskiy) who is making his way though the battle. An apocalypse is coming and he must try and stop it.

This is shot in an inspired way. Every set-up is planned, every angle chosen for specificity. Sometimes this works against itself, trying too hard to be cool. But for the most part, it makes for a hip visual film.

The story is contrived in some moments, the big apocalypse turns out to be somewhat anticlimactic, but it has some new twists to put on the vampire lore, which is all you can ask. The dialogue works as well, playful at times and pointed at others. Plus, the final moment makes up for the lame apocalypse. This is a catch-22. A powerful producer would have demanded the apocalypse resolution be better, but a powerful producer would also have disallowed and ruined the aesthetic of this movie.

The special effects mar the film at a few moments, especially since they are often shots that are unneeded (like the shot of the inner workings of a car as it starts up). But they are never so bad as to derail the film.

Hey, I give this credit for being different, for paving its own way, and for not compromising its own weirdness. You won’t see another movie like it (though the closest visually is probably director Timur Bekmambetov‘s WANTED).



The bonus is for the subtitles, which are alive, vibrant, and their own character. Where subtitles often hide at the bottom of the screen, these impact the movie. They are not an afterthought. They raise the enjoyment of the experience.



~ by johnlink00 on November 22, 2010.

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