9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Not the Twilight rip off the boxart makes it look.. Thank god!,
This review is from: Near Dark [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
For many this will be the perfect antidote to a certain major franchise built around vampires of the modern day. Don't be deceived by the box art, rather cynically designed to make it seem as though bears some similarities to the Twilight movies. Thankfully it does not. The vampires in this movie do not have red eyes as the box shows, neither do they twinkle in sunlight - rather they burn in a graphic and horrific fashion. As it should be. Perhaps the most important distinction is the vampires are vicious and sadistic killers worthy of the terror they have inspired down through the centuries. A fair more compelling plot in which to place a dangerous romance wouldn't you agree?
But enough of my yakkin', how about I review the movie.
The film is a simple story about a farm boy, Caleb, on the verge of manhood who meets a beautiful, mysterious girl one night. A beautiful, mysterious girl who is strangely stronger than he is and has striking fear of sunrise. A girl who bit him on the neck when they kissed... Before he knows what is happening to him, Caleb is abducted by the strange and violent family of the girl in full sight of his father and sister. What follows is a disturbing rampage across America, as the family give Caleb just five days to kill and feed on humans or die. This is one of the many clevernesses laid into the film's plot. Caleb's inability to feed on humans could read as pathetic, especially as he begins to feel ill of failing to do so very quickly. Instead it ensures our rooting interest remains with him, as more horrors unfold we feel his despair with him. The film moves at a fair pace without ever feeling too fast. I enjoyed especially the excellent make up effects and the stand out performances of pretty much the entire cast.
I was surprised by the depth of performances from Caleb's father and the great character actor Troy Evans (who sadly only has one scene). But the real stars are the menacing cast of vampires. Bill Paxton is always great, as is Lance Henriksson, and Jenette Goldstein is particularly frightening as the malicious and maternal matriarch of their peculiar family. Joshua John Miller is also noteworthy as a particularly strong performer at only 13. I thought the film was well directed especially considering the budget it was produced for. Kathryn Bigelow is known these days as action's great lady director. You can certainly see that on display here in the climax in particular. I thought the film's other real action scene was a little uninspired, but contained some great visuals all the same. Overall the script is fantastically neat, with some great dialogue and a phenomenal sense of dread as the inevitable climax builds to its suspense filled conclusion. The plot has some clever twists (I genuinely don't get to say "I didn't see that coming" much these days, but here I did). There is even some play with the vampire mythos that is actually quite intelligent. I felt the ending few minutes were a little rushed, with some characters accepting death perhaps a touch too easily. Also I felt much of the action is quite big, but the plot always feels quite small. Not a big problem though as the intimacy and claustrophobia lend the film much of its integrity, and I found the whole thing immensely satisfying. An experience I would not hesitate to recommend.
As for this blu ray. Thankfully considering Optimum couldn't really have a worse record when it comes to blu rays, they have a good transfer on show here. It's a 1080p picture with great inky blacks and vivid primary colours. Try to remember however the film is a low budget 1980's thriller set mostly at night. Eye watering detail is not abundant, and some errant DNR is present. But the detail is still leaps and bounds stronger than previous home video releases and there's a lovely, healthy layer of grain throughout the film. The DTS HD Master Audio is superb, though like most films from this era lacks much directionality, but is astonishingly clear and precise all the same. Worth the upgrade all on its own. This blu ray would make an excellent addition to any collection and one I would highly recommend to anyone who has or has not seen it. But is an essential for fans of action, horror, the 80's, film, vampires and for human beings living, dead or undead everywhere.