Friday, July 21, 2017

Nightcomer – review

Director: Alain Silver

Release date: 2013

Contains spoilers

There was, in the early 21st Century, a glut of vampire movies. The popularity of the genre (due to franchise hits on the big screen and television) coupled with the fact that any idiot could pick up a video camera and then find a way of distributing their effort meant that many a film disappeared under the radar.

Nightcomer may have been a later entry to that particular party but it certainly did drop below the radar. Clearly budget, this suffered from an incomplete narrative but also stood out mainly because of its primary star.

Mackenzie Rosman as Rowena
With a sense of noir we start with a voiceover saying how Los Angeles looks better at night and how an illness, or an addiction, can make you do things. We see Rowena (Mackenzie Rosman, the Tomb) walking through the streets and then entering Union Station. She is followed by a guy who comes on to her outside the toilets – but she blows him off. Moving into the main concourse again she sees an intense looking guy, Travis (Eric Gorlow), gets a bad feeling and leaves.

Travis and Rowena
She walks the streets again and feels as though she is being followed by Travis. Eventually he appears in front of her and tells her that he knows what she is – she denies being anything – and warns her off Union Station as he works the trains and there is plenty of blood to go round in other areas of the city. This, of course, establishes a territorial aspect to these vampires.

Roy Lee Jones as Eddie
So we follow Rowena’s story as she tells it to a researcher (it is mentioned that he has interviewed sanguinarians, ie those who believe that they need to drink blood but are not supernatural) and her (ex-)fiancée Andrew (Michael Adam Hamilton, Breaking Wind) has hooked her up with him. She tells of her relationships; her friendship with homeless Eddie (Roy Lee Jones) who knows what she is and perhaps likes her less than she needs him, her avoidance (and the patience of) Andrew, and her bunking with disgraced college professor Marty (Timothy Busfield) who she is endlessly bitchy to (but she does see him during the day mostly and so isn't at her best).

She eventually seeks out Travis again and persuades him to teach her something of their condition. Through him we discover that sunlight is an annoyance, that they can spontaneously translocate by thinking of a person or place, they can read minds (Rowena tends only to kill those who she deems deserve it) and that they seem to be truly immortal – even a stake to the heart won’t stop them. She is in touch with a vampire in Mexico, Hildegard, who claims to know a cure but wants $50k for it. Much of the film sees Rowena making money (being a bar lure, stealing, fencing shoplifted goods and taking money from victims).

The credits show various vampire figures from history (mostly serial killers and necrophiliacs who were given the moniker vampire) but includes Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179) labelled as “vampire mystic and composer”. Hildegard is considered a Saint amongst some Roman Catholic branches (she is officially a Doctor of the Church) and was indeed a composer. I am not sure why the filmmakers suggest she was a vampire mystic. She did write medicinal texts and that included bleeding (as was common practice in her day). I suspect that this is meant to be the same Hildegard who allegedly has a cure for vampirism but that is not explicitly stated, indeed it is not explored in film.

trickle of blood
I guess where the film stalled slightly was in the incomplete narrative. We hear that it was through a lecturer at college that Rowena was infected – he asked her to stay after class. However, we don’t know the actual detail; we don’t know how she was infected, whether it was deliberate, why he did it, did she confront him? The film has less than a satisfying conclusion and it tends to be more 'a day in the life'. There were aspects to it that reminded me of the Addiction but it lacked that film’s power, focus and underlying themes. However I also think that Mackenzie Rosman did a fantastic, understated job. She made Rowena believable, vulnerable and personable (even when she was being bitchy). 6 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

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