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Near Dark Screenshot


The Pan Scape

Kathryn Bigelow makes a vampire film without having to mention the word vampire once during the movie.

I think what really worked for me here was how moody and evocative the film is. For the duration of the film, I felt totally transported to these lonely, dusty, isolated highways in the West. We start with a boy meets girl scene but things feel off right from the get go. The dialogue feels stilted and we immediately fear for our sweet and wholesome looking cowboy. I think what I enjoyed most about this film is how successful it is at evoking and sustaining this mood. Pretty much the entire film inhabits this magic hour in these small towns and it’s like being there literally. The film has shot after shot of light dying out and darkness setting in or the other way round and they are all hypnotically beautiful. Plus, the movie has a lot of things that get set on fire all the time and it’s lovely to watch – every single time.

I think the point at which I really got into the movie was the initiation sequence in the bar. It’s simultaneously intense and utterly hilarious. It’s patiently gruesome and violent and the whole thing is choreographed so beautifully, literally like a dance piece, with the music playing on the jukebox in the background and by the time we get to “Fever”, all the violence has slowed down to a languorous and bone-chilling pace. It’s really pretty perfect.

There’s a particular plot device that took me out of the film for a brief moment (i.e. the cure) but the plot isn’t really what the film is about anyway. It’s all subservient to the atmosphere and the ideas that the film does a great job conveying.

I was also pleasantly surprised by how she envisions these vampires. Bigelow’s vampire family seems full of conflicted, desperate characters (as opposed to seductive and glamorous) and I really enjoyed the casting too. Bill Paxton is just fun to watch and Lance Henriksen has the weathered look of a man who has seen it all and been here forever.

There are a ton of fun set pieces in the movie. By the time we get to the amazing sequence in a truck and the one of people going up in flames, the film had totally won me over and any niggling doubts about the plot had more or less vanished.

Pan-Card: B

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