With Lady Pam De Graff
sind die Nacht AKA
WE ARE THE NIGHT (2011)
WRITTEN BY: Jan Berger, Dennis Gansel
DIRECTED BY: Dennis Gansel
FEATURING: Karoline Herfurth, Nina Hoss, Jennifer Ulrich, Anna Fischer, Max Riemelt
RATING: 7 OUT OF 10 PINTS OF BLOOD
PLOT: A novice jet-setting vampire struggles with the challenges of immortality, the politics of her new bloodsucker pack, and pursuit by the authorities all while being caught in a bisexual love triangle. Derivative, but well done.
COMMENTS: Oh no! Not another vampire movie! A certain franchise has popularized the entire vamp genre. Suck-cinema is cascading out of the studios faster than blood spray from a bitten jugular.
Right up front let me warn you that there is a dreadfully dubbed version of this slick German movie. Raise your standards. Be sure you find the English subtitled release instead. The chic optical signature of the production is made visually destitute by dialogue that doesn't synch up to speech.
I groaned when I saw the Wir sind die Nacht poster, and sized it up for a Twilight-style chick flick perpetuating the myth of women's domination over men. My prejudice was soon remedied.
Wir sind die Nacht opens with a scene of carnage aboard a mid-sized private jet, where slumped, vacant-eyed passengers sat drained of blood. The three vampiresses responsible, all pretty, dainty and fashionably attired, have a moment of small talk before abruptly smashing out the emergency door mid-flight over the glittering Berlin night-scape.
As lights go haywire, debris flies, and the
invading slipstream creates an out of control, mayday bedlam of doom in the
passenger cabin, the sanguine tempests throw themselves out into the moonlit sky
as it rushes past the portal at 400 miles per hour.
Wasn't expecting that. With this initial sequence, the filmmakers hooked and kept my attention for the remainder of the story.
The story itself is not unlike what you'd expect. It lies someplace between the lesbian themes of old Hammer Karnstein trilogy movies and the vampire-loves-mortal romance angle from every night-walker flick since Dracula. Other familiar theses include love triangles and the sadness of immortality that occurs when humans age and wither while vampires remain forever youthful, as in Interview With A Vampire; the chic club scene all modern day, fashionable bloodsuckers crave, a movie trope established by Blade; and a bit of femme melodrama right out of Sex And The City.
Skillfully marrying these elements to stylish
sets, costumes and camerawork however, the filmmakers manage to assemble it all
in a way that is as fresh as the sum total of its highly derivative elements can
allow. The result is a surprisingly slick, visually impressive, and reasonably
The setup is this: A threesome of jet-setting, euro-trash vampiresses "recruit" a new girl, Lena (Herfuth,) because the vampy alpha girl of the terrible trio, Louise (Hoss), thinks Lena is the reincarnation of her long lost lover. Lena meanwhile, has a crush on a police officer who is hot on her trail for larceny. Lena must learn how to adapt to her new body, physical needs, and shadowy circumstances, while deftly managing the politics of her sanguine guild. At odds with the authorities when they kill for blood, the rapacious quartet scrambles to stay several steps ahead of perpetually pursuing police.
Feminist themes arise when we learn that all
modern day vampires are women, the men having been killed off long ago for being
too bossy. With their new-found liberation the fairer undead are free to pursue
lofty intellectual goals, rising to the tops of their respective fields in the
arts, literature and academia.
They spend all night every night wearing Madison Avenue fashions, boogieing in dance clubs, sniffing coke, jaunting up walls and across ceilings, swilling chilled blood from fancy vodka glasses, and screwing men to death -literally. In fact, the nightlife sequences become a bit tiresome as Wir sind die Nacht spends its first thirty minutes establishing that today's swank children of the night really know how to get down. Vamps party in style and wallow in excess, free from consequence.
We get it.
Once the fast-lane tawdriness is established, Wir sind die Nacht 's plot line becomes a little more interesting as the existential ramifications of her involuntary induction into the undead begin to dawn on Lena.
What could be a chance for some introspective drama turns to melodrama however, when Lena finds herself torn between bloodsucking suitor Louise, and warm-blooded beau Tom (Riemelt), the detective pursing Lena for pick pocketing and grand theft auto. Along the way we encounter the standard feminist theme of women rejecting male control and instead dominating men. Add these to the tried and tired vampire film contemplation of physical and philosophical reckoning with the (in)human condition. Wir sind die Nacht hedges here however, stopping short of becoming a darkly brooding drama.
Instead the filmmakers thrust in high speed action thrills ala a leather cat-suited Angelina Jollie karate kicking, and race-car careening her way across the screen in Salt. To its credit, the characters in Wir sind die Nacht are mildly interesting, the chases exciting and the bloodletting delightfully scary. Ultimately though, the result is insufficiently-developed drama, and not enough action for the film to stand on its own in either genre. This leaves the viewer somehow insatiate and the ambiguous, open end (which opens the casket lid to, how convenient, a sequel) leaves us a little perplexed, We wind up wondering, "what was that all about?"
Despite its lack of pensive insight, and groundbreaking paradigms, Wir sind die Nacht is certainly engaging. With a kinetic, stylish visual footprint, and plenty of morbid eeriness from start to finish, Wir sind die Nacht is a good pick for any blood thirsty fang-movie fanatic I give it seven out of ten pints of blood.
WRITTEN BY: David Higgins, Christine Coyle Johnson, Julie Prendiville Roux
DIRECTED BY: Carlos Brooks
FEATURING: Garret Dillahunt, Briana Evigan, Charlie Tahan, Peggy Sheffield, Mary Rachel Dudley, Tom Nowicki
GENRE: NON-SUPERNATURAL HORROR / THRILLER
RATING: 7 PINTS OF BLOOD
PLOT: A woman is trapped in a house with a ravenous tiger during a hurricane which occurs during an earthqauke and a solar eclipse. Nah, only kidding. It's just the tiger and a hurricane.
COMMENTS: With its title borrowed from William Blake's poem, "The Tyger," Burning Bright is both an unusual film and an unlikely candidate for being an effective horror movie. Surprisingly, it's pretty good!
Twenty--something Kelly (Evigan) tries to enroll her young autistic brother in a special school so she will be free to accept a college scholarship, but her recently deceased mother's deadbeat boyfriend (Dillahunt) has looted her mother's savings. He wants to turn their Florida homestead into a safari bed-and-breakfast. He blew Kelly's inheritance on a Bengal tiger to serve as the preserve's showpiece attraction.
Next thing you know, a major hurricane sweeps over the peninsula, and Kelly finds herself alone with her brother in the large family home. Well, almost alone. It seems the newly acquired tiger is somehow in the house with them, and the deceased mom's boyfriend is AWOL. But before he left, the boyfriend had the house boarded-up to weather-out the hurricane.
REALLY boarded up. By the time Kelly and her little brother realize that there's a ravenous tiger roaming the hallways, they discover they can't break out of the house.
Captive, like animals in a cage, Kelly and her handicapped ward, who exhibits a profoundly damnable lack of self-preservation instinct, struggle and scheme to keep one step ahead of the very ornery, very hungry and determined Bengal. While Burning Bright's storyline is a tad improbable, it's suitably exciting and suspenseful enough for us to suspend disbelief.
Amazingly, the filmmakers pull of their concept successfully. The action carries off the premise. It works! I watched this movie with friends and while we all groaned at some obvious bone-head moves the characters make while trying to survive the night, we were nevertheless riveted to the screen from start to finish.
The scenario offers well-conceived twists and turns to deliver plenty of nail-biting, seat-squirming thrills, while the action shots are superbly presented, delightfully claustrophobic, and colorfully photographed with cohesively consistent, visual design elements. Burning Bright offers a unique optical footprint, and it is a memorably horrifying, offbeat entry in the thriller genre.
Performances are all reasonably convincing, and include an uncredited Meatloaf as the Big Cat broker at the start of the film. But the real stars of the show are Katie. Schicka, and Kismet the three Bengals cast in the role of "the Tiger," Kinetic, physically expressive, with a slick repertoire of facial expressions and tricks, the tiger trio is a real show-stealer, and frankly, I was quite impressed by their acting. I hope they got their number 10-sized cans of Fancy Feast for their contribution to the film. Which leads me to question, why aren't MY cats bringing home the bacon as stars of a major motion picture?
You can also watch "Burning Bright" on Amazon Streaming Video!
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