Monday, August 06, 2007

Night Junkies – review


Directed by: Lawrence Pearce

Release Date: 2007

Contains spoilers

It just doesn’t seem fair, a vampire film based in London getting a region 1 release first… oh hum, there you go. This is a dark and gritty film and though of a low budget (50k) I was struck immediately by how classy it looks. It does warm the heart to know that low budget independent movies can seem classy but all is not good.

The film begins with Vincent (Giles Alderson) speaking on a phone to a woman named Stella (Lucy Bowen) – of whom we only see the mouth. He is discussing vampire movies, how they are as sexy as Hell, but wonders what a real vampire would be like, what if they are not like the movies. Stella ends the call; he’s run out of credit.

random attackCue credits and scenes of an attack on a woman, of London at night and then of a man taking drugs. He walks to a room, picks up a gun and then lifts it to his head and the camera pulls round to a little girl. This image then cuts to Ruby (Katia Winter). This is important as it is clear that she was the girl and later she is haunted by nightmares of her father’s (?) suicide.

Jonathon Coyne as MaxRuby is an exotic dancer and her boss/owner Max (Jonathon Coyne) is trying to encourage her to give the extras that he expects his girls to give. During this we discover that 13 whores have been attacked brutally and Max uses his protection as leverage. Ruby is having none of it. We also see Vincent driving, explaining that he is just another Junkie. Ruby is asked for extras by a client but she refuses and we see that the club muscle, Matt (René Zagger), has a thing for her but it is not reciprocated.

Vincent has gone off with another of Max’s girls, Sultry (Lauren Adams), and attacks her. However the attack goes wrong and he flees, she is still alive.

Katia Winter as RubyRuby leaves the club and is followed by a troublesome guy. She tells him she has a boyfriend and then nips into a café where she comes face to face with Vincent. She asks him to play along as her boyfriend until the guy goes away and they end up having coffee and are obviously attracted to each other. They fall into bed and we see Ruby sleeping as Vincent struggles with his inner demons. Unable to control himself he bites her and she awakens. He tries to apologise but she escapes his flat and, of course, he has infected her.

going cold turkeyThey then have to struggle with their addictions, Max (and his employees) and the fact that Ruby wants them both to go cold turkey. There is also the matter of the man attacking prostitutes (its not Vincent, he disposes of his victims’ bodies in the Thames).

Lore wise things are interesting. This is an infection, one guesses, passed through bites. There are no fangs in this, normal human bite marks are left. Holy water simply makes them wet and garlic makes their breath smell. However there are changes above and beyond the blood addiction. Their white blood cells work ten times faster than a normal human and thus they heal quickly, Vincent is allergic to sunlight causing an eczema-like rash.

nightmare VincentA stake through the heart will work, but so will a bullet through the head. One guesses that they get improved strength (or Vincent breaking someone’s neck quite casually seems a bit odd) and they also become plagued with vivid nightmares, in Ruby’s case often of the junkie suicide from the opening credits.

As I said at the head of the review the film looks classy and the characters are well developed. I liked, for example, the cut to memory regarding Vincent’s first feed from someone called the Grey Man (Vas Anderson), an old man who had recognised the infection in Vincent but wanted to die and so offered his own blood. Some of the dialogue is a little OTT but any excesses are forgivable.

Giles Alderson as VincentThe big problem I had with the movie was with Alderson as Vincent. Now, positively, he looked right, all dark and brooding. However he came across as overtly theatrical and unnecessarily melodramatic in his delivery and in such a gritty piece it just didn’t work – for me at least. If the blame for this should go to Alderson or if it was down to how Pearce directed him I cannot say.

René Zagger as MattOther characters are a little over the top as well, specifically that of Max – though it seems to work in a Bob Hoskins kind of way – and Matt. As over the top as Zagger might be, however, it fits well with the character of Matt as he develops and I have no complaints there – indeed he provides the best performance in the film.

There is a loose end in respect of the character Sultry, bitten we expect that she is infected and yet she is never mentioned again after the attack. The attacker of prostitutes seemed also to be a loose end until that plot aspect is neatly answered at the climax of the movie. That said, whilst that is answered we then have to take it on faith that the other vampires (there is the woman who turned Vincent and two young men we see feeding early on) are as neat with their body disposal as Vincent or this spate of ripper like attacks would have soon become an absolute plague.

This issue I had with Alderson’s performance is a shame as it prevented me from becoming immersed in the film as I should of. It is gritty, dark and (to be honest) misogynistic in its treatment of women but this just adds to how dark the film is – it is not celebrated. I just couldn’t buy the leading male character and this has restricted me to thinking of the film as just above average at 5.5 out of 10. That said, for Pearce’s first movie, it is well crafted and we can expect good things from him in the future.

The imdb page is here. The film’s homepage is here.


Anonymous said...

Spot on review, mate!

Taliesin_ttlg said...


Margaret said...

I agree with you...somewhat. I actually did have a bit of a problem with his performance as well, not because I thought it over the top so much, however, but because I was distracted by his accent. I got the impression that he was meant to be an American, but he did not really sound like one to me. It was more like someone who was trying to have an American accent, and it was a bit distracting, but otherwise I found his performance was fine. Perhaps that was why his performance was not ringing true, because his accent was throwing his performance off, not really sure. I am not sure why the decision was to make him American. It was not really necessary to the plot. Did it somehow make the story more gritty? Not sure. He might have been better off using his own accent, though, it seems.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Margaret, I don't think the accent made it more gritty, rather it probably had the other effect,

You may be right and it might have been the off-ness of the accent that made the performance seem off - but, honestly, I haven't watched this in a while (4 years) and so am dredging the memories back!

Margaret said...

Sorry, Andy! I know I am coming to a lot of these blogs very late! Better late than never though?

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Mo need to apologise, firstly I am glad that they are still proving of value and it also reminds me that I should rewatch many a film in my collection (if only I didn't have so many new things to watch!)