NEAR DARK (REVIEW)
Dir. Kathryn Bigelow
Reviewer. Martyn Wakefield
When we talk about 80s vampire films, only one comes to mind... Joel Schumacher's THE LOST BOYS tops many lists as the ultimate fanged film of the era. Fair to say, it's Uber cool collective and innocence accompanied by the bloodshed and gallons of blood were a welcome treat for teens and cinemagoers alike. Perhaps it's a reflection of audiences and nostalgia that have sustained the film for so long but there is no denying it's lasting effect.
It's a shame, as the Keifer Sutherland starring venture overshadows that of Kathryn Bigelow's 1988 classic that is as simple yet character driven take on vampirism and one nested firmly in 80s noir.
An opening scene that sees Adrian Pasdar bitten by vampiress Jenny Wright in a shocking move that breaks boundaries by putting the attacker in the eyes of the female and turning Pasdar from the vulnerable farmer's son into the growing vampire he becomes. After the transition he joins the travelling band of vampires that include career high turns from Bill Paxton (RIP) and Lance Henrikson in a rollercoaster road trip of vampiric action and battle of wits between Pasdar and his new family.
Bigelow's film, which came 30 years before she won an Oscar for THE HURT LOCKER, is still her peak for genre fans and rightly so, it's dark, heartfelt and violent in tones that wouldn't be matched until Rodriguez have us FROM DISK TIL DAWN and it's easy to see where the great John Carpenter saw inspiration for his VAMPIRES.
While it's less grandeur in scale of some films, it's simplicity serves it well as the travellers voyage from town to town making the villains more survivors than predators and as such gives a sad outlook as Henrikson's closing smile is one of relief rather than ambition.
NEAR DARK shares many of the vampire tropes that have come before but creates a very modern take on what it is to be a vampire which gives us one of the most satisfying endings in genre history.