Prelude to /slash #5: Near Dark

Near DarkNear Dark
USA 1987
Written by Kathryn Bigelow & Eric Red
Directed by Kathryn Bigelow

“Near Dark” is as 80s as 80s-movies get. The blueish color palette, the synthesizer-soundtrack, the costumes, the atmosphere… it lives and breathes the 80s. As a huge fan of this peroid in movie-making, this part of “Near Dark” definitely spoke to me. Kathryn Bigelow’s direction is also really excellent. It is exquisitely shot, with some beautiful, haunting images and many dark, moody scenes. The cast is also (mostly) great. Adrian Paster is a little bland as the main protagonist, but that’s not really a problem when you got such a strong ensemble that features, among others, three “Aliens”-alumni (Lance Henriksen, Bill Paxton & Jenette Goldstein), an enchanting performance by Jenny Wright, as well as a super-creepy turn by Joshua Miller. I also really liked the setup, the romance between Caled and Mae (especially their weird, but romantic, first night together), and the first third of the movie in particular. And the shootout in the cottage is definitely one of the standout moments of the movie, and truly memorable.

However, I found the second act of the movie a little uneven. The bar-scene in particular stood out to me as rather weird, slightly cartoonish, and not entirely successful. And the last act didn’t really live up to what came before. The showdown was especially disappointing, and didn’t hold a candle to that great shootout from before. And I was also taken aback by the way they healed Caleb from his vampirism. That didn’t convince me at all. Finally, I would have preferred a different ending to the movie. One where Jesse and the others simply leave Caleb alone, there’s this one short scene between him and Mae at the swing, and then we jump forward in time to when Caleb is old and dying, and Mae comes back to him and asks him if he regrets his choice now. I dunno, I would have found it poetical (feel free to disagree). It definitely would have been more unusual than the rather generic showdown and finale that “Near Dark” gave us. Nevertheless, it is a very good vampire movie that again shows how this myth in particular seems to invite very different interpretations and approaches – which for me is one of the main advantages of this horror-subgenre.


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