Near Dark (1987)

Director: Kathryn Bigelow
Writers: Kathryn Bigelow, Eric Red
Stars: Adrian Pasdar, Jenny Wright, Lance Henriksen

The sun sets on the American Midwest and we see Caleb (Pasdar) out with his buddies drinking. Outside, Caleb spots a girl and decides to go over and talk to her. Mae (Wright) is alone and decides she likes his company and advances. Caleb takes her for a ride in his pickup and while he decides to surprise her by taking her to his pa’s farm so she can see his horse, the surprise is something said horse does not appreciate too much.

With Mae acting worried regarding the time she insists Caleb drive her home immediately, which he starts to do, but stops along the way teasing her. In an act of panic Mae bites Caleb and runs off into the distance. With his truck refusing to start, Caleb starts to walk home as the sun lazily begins its ascent over the horizon. Becoming sick as he stumbles through the field near the farm, a mysterious vehicle arrives and abducts him.

Near Dark is a classic and unusual vampire film from talented director Bigelow. A sort of horror/western hybrid where the usual tired old vampire ‘rules’ are thrown away in favour of something a little different. You’ll find no long fangs nor cloves of garlic anywhere around here folks. What you will find is a very dark and bleak film. Many may complain that the film is perhaps a little too dark, but the dimly lit night scenes (of which there are a lot) work well and help to drag you into Caleb’s desperation in the surreal nights.

This is a very well directed film with Bigelow showing early on what a talented director she is and would go on to become. Similarly, the script is also good and while there are the odd low moments in the writing, overall it is kept to what it needs to be and is tight. The photography is also to be commended here, with some fantastic shots involving light and shadows, they really did make the areas eerie and miserable.

The musical score is also fantastic (if you’re into your eighties anyway) and was completely done by Tangerine Dream. The score is also eerie and electronic, very eighties in sound but this direction fits the film perfectly I feel. Overall this is also very well acted for what was really a low budget horror type of feature, especially from Henriksen as one would naturally expect from him. A young Bill Paxton also impresses as does Jenny Wright.

This is personally one of my favourite vampire films and I love the dark atmospheric and stylish tone and look of the film. As alternative vampire films go, this is one of the better ones (even with some of its ridiculous continuity) and if vampire flicks are your thing, and you’re tired of the old cliches, then give this a try.


The Sage’s Rating:

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