Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The Night Watchmen – review

Directed by: Mitchell Altieri

Release date: 2017

Contains spoilers

Sometimes a film doesn’t have to be complex to be fun. I can imagine the pitch for this flick – we are going to have a mild comedy, horror film with vampires, and clowns… vampire clowns. Ding. Sold!

There is, to be fair, some gentle character building – which despite its light touch is successful in rounding the characters enough for us to care, and to get the jokes. This is fused with some stereotypes to hook the comedy from – and, refreshingly, some attacking of stereotypes. There are also some nice genre jokes, including a poke at Twilight that was fresh enough to work for a change.

Ken, Jiggets and Luca
The film’s opening credits show news, broadcast in Baltimore, regarding the death of beloved clown Blimpo (Gary Peebles) and his troupe whilst on tour in Romania. All of them dying from a mysterious illness. Their bodies are being shipped back for autopsy and examination. We then cut to a shock rock type band playing – this turns out to be a video of the erstwhile band of a new security guard (Max Gray Wilbur) who is being questioned by current guards Ken (Ken Arnold) and Jiggetts (Kevin Jiggetts). Eventually they give him a uniform with a name badge of Rajeeve, his predecessor and the name used for him through the film.

human bowling
Also there is security guard Luca (Dan DeLuca), they tell Rajeeve that he is witness protection, they think, mafia, a hitman and he should never look the man in the eye. The hazing culminates in some human bowling. Fun and games, and Ken watching unrequited love Karen (Kara Luiz) on the CCTV, is brought to an end when a coffin is brought into the loading bay. It is actually for the medical facility next door but the delivery guys get Jiggetts to agree to keep it overnight for some primo weed.

James Remar as Randall
As we meet some of the office staff – who have to work late that night – we meet walking pervert and chancer Randall (James Remar, Vampire Diaries & From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series). He breaks into the coffin looking for jewellery but finds the body of Blimpo. He decides there is money to be made (say from selling Blimpo’s red nose) and takes a selfie with the corpse. As he looks at the picture, puzzling why the clown isn’t in it, the clown himself sits up and reveals a maw of sharp teeth.

And that is it. All Hell breaks loose in the office (and is also breaking loose across the city – hence a predicted 6 hour wait for a connection to a 911 operative) and eventually it is the four night watchmen and Karen fighting to survive. They meet janitor Willy (Matt Servitto) at one point and he seems to know a lot more about the vampires than they do. We do discover that as well as not appearing in photos and CCTV (or in mirrors) the vampires are fast, the older they are the more dangerous, they fear crosses (but not a Star of David, the joke taking a crack at earlier films), avoid garlic, die in sunlight and by a wooden stake to the heart (but not plastic), and are flatulent when they actually die. We are in a one bite turns scenario.

Blimpo summons the clowns
I liked the fact that the watchmen immediately make neck protectors, there is a moment of accidental breast touching that immediately turns the vampire from hungry to horny ala Haunted Cop Shop 2, they can get stoned and there is an initial denial that they are vampires – they do not sparkle and are not good looking – but a suggestion of them being zompires is dismissed as silly. Turning does not improve eyesight, apparently.

slayer moves
This was great fun. It was bloody, silly and did exactly what it needed to. It subtly played with some stereotypes – as I mentioned – or deliberately used others to make its point, advance its plot and frame its jokes. The cast seemed to be having a ball and the wider frame of reference opens this for a sequel should the filmmakers be so inclined. Sometimes you need something that just does what it is meant to and this did. 7 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

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