near dark | kathryn bigelow | eric red | adrian pasdar | jenny wright | lance henriksen | vampire | vampires | action | crime | drama | romance | thriller | united states | bill paxton | jenette goldstein | tim thomerson | joshua john miller | marcie leeds | troy evans
Film: Near Dark
Director: Kathryn Bigelow
Writer: Kathryn Bigelow and Eric Red
Starring: Adrian Pasdar, Jenny Wright and Lance Henriksen
Now this was a film that I finally got a chance to check out for a movie club on a podcast I listen to. I personally didn’t know anything about this film until this year and have heard a fewpodcasts actually bringing this film up. I do have to say, after this first watch it is quite interesting. The official synopsis is a small-town farmer’s son reluctantly joins a traveling group of vampires after he is turned on by a beautiful drifter.
This film starts out with our star Caleb Colton (Adrian Pasdar). As the synopsis states, he is a son of a farmer and at the start of the film looks like he is unhappy or just bored with his life. He drives his truck into town where he meets up with his friends. Caleb comes off as moody, which I get when you are roughly his age and trying to find yourself. It is during this that he sees Mae (Jenny Wright). He falls for her and goes to talk to her.
The two of them hit it off and he tries to impress her. He does a bit, but she freaks out when it starts to get closer to dawn. Caleb in a creepy move has her kiss him, but she bites his neck. The following morning he tries to make it back to his home, but he is not feeling well. He is then kidnapped by an RV right in front of his father, Loy (Tim Thomerson) and his sister Sarah (Marcie Leeds).
This group is run by Jesse Hooker (Lance Henriksen). His lady is Diamondback (Jenette Goldstein). They are rounded out by Mae, Severen (Bill Paxton) and Homer (Joshua John Miller). This group is a bunch of vampires, but the film never explicitly calls them that. I actually really liked this aspect of the film. Homer is also interesting, because he is quite old but was turned as a boy so he is stuck that way.
We then get to see how this group lives and what they do to feed. The group’s patience wears thin as Caleb keeps refusing to drink the blood of a victim. This also leads to some disastrous results when they visit a local, small bar. The internal struggle of Caleb is one of my favorite parts of the film. He is in love, or at least infatuated, with Mae. He doesn’t want to kill anyone, but knows that he has to in order to stay with this group. He also thinks he is doomed, which brings an interesting aspect to this film. All the while, Loy and Sarah are looking for Caleb.
The pacing of this film is pretty decent. It never gets boring, which is definitely a good aspect. It actually really gets into the film and progresses, building the tension the whole way. There is an odd almost climax like scene near the end of the second act before settling down again. I don’t mind this and originally I thought this was the climax to the film. We do get another at the end which I liked. This film is quite dark in its subject matter and the group of vampires is as well.
The acting for this film is great. Pasdar is fine as the lead as is Wright. I actually think though they are two of the weaker performances. They aren’t bad, but they are just outshined. Henriksen plays such a great villain and I loved his performance. There is a subtle part where he gives his back-story and I really was a fan. Paxton is also fantastic in this film. Goldstein and Miller were both really good as well. I don’t think I had ever seen Goldstein in anything aside from Aliens. I have to say, she was quite attractive in this film. Thomerson was underutilized, but I thought his performance was good for what they needed. The rest of the cast round out the film for what they needed.
Effects for this film are interesting. This film is very subtle about the vampires. Those that know all about vampire lore, will know that is what they are, but since the film never actually uses that word. So due to this, we never get to see them as vampires. I actually don’t really mind this. We see some blood being drank, their superhuman strength, which was all good. There are scenes of people getting shot and the blood looks really good. There are also a lot of the vampires being burned by the sunlight, which the effects for this look great. Everything was done practically and it showed, definitely was good.
As for the soundtrack of the film, I thought that it fit for what they needed it to do. It didn’t stand out to me, but it never took me out of any of the scenes, which is a good thing. I would say overall that it is just fine for what it is.
Now with that said, this is definitely an underrated vampire film that I really had never heard about. It has an interesting setting out west. It is also interesting that we never really explicitly get that they are vampires. This group is quite evil and I thought the performances there were good. We also get some good internal strife for our main character as he decides what to do. The film is paced very well and the effects were really good in the film. There are some issues though with the story and how easy something happens in the film. I thought the soundtrack was good for what they needed. This film is quite dark in its subject which I really liked. Overall I’d say that this is a good film and definitely worth a viewing, especially if you want a more realistic vampire film.
My Rating: 8 out of 10