Writer and Director Scott Leberecht (whom is best known as the art director on such projects as 1999’s “Sleepy Hollow”), has put together a smart and stylish vampire movie. Jacob (Zak Kilberg) is a night time security guard who has a skin disease where light burns. He also has seemed to have developed an eating disorder. It’s not that he doesn’t eat, but rather eating has no effect.
Jacob is always hungry.
Until, he discovers blood satisfy’s his hunger. Feeling better, he tries to enjoy himself at a bar only to leave after one drink. On the way out, he meets Mary (Maya Parish) a cigarette girl with whom he starts a difficult relationship.
A chance encounter behind a hospital (where Jacob is every bit the street junkie, only for blood), Jacob meets Marcus (Jo D. Jonz) whom agrees to sell blood to Jacob rather than dispose of it. Meanwhile, a murder outside of Jacob’s workplace has Detective Ginslegh (Larry Cedar) snooping around a little closer than Jacob would otherwise like. Both touching and tragic, the horror comes not only in the form of death, but Jacob’s dawning understanding of what he is slowly becoming.
This is about as far from “Twilight” as one can get when it comes to mixing vampires and romance. The burgeoning relationship between Mary and Jacob is troubled from the outset as each have their own issues they are not willing to address with themselves, let alone share with another person. It is this relationship that makes the film. They are very attracted to one another, yet do not know how to overcome their personal problems to allow them to be fully together. Even with these challenges, they keep finding their way back to each other. Yet it is Jacob’s vampirism that ultimately causes the biggest problem for the couple. By the time Mary understands what he really is, things have clashed within his life leading to fateful decisions for all.
The sparse and industrial background of downtown L.A. with its dirty facade, not only enhances the feeling of emptiness the characters live with, it also leaves the viewer with an overall feeling of dread. Taking place at night, the film takes great advantage of the light available, so the exterior shots are mostly streetlights or other already present light. As a result, the film ends up with more of a documentary feel in this regard. As dark as it is though, never does one have to strain to understand what is being seen.
This is a gory film that has plenty of blood for horror fans, but it never feels cheap or over the top. The soundtrack never overtakes the dialogue, but rather is used as a device to enhance the tension, or passion, of a scene. There is an intermittent voiceover, but that only to helps with character development of Jacob as we watch him struggle. Not without its moments of levity, the film is actually quite lighthearted in some aspects.
“Midnight Son" takes a more adult look at vampirism and romance than some of the more mainstream Hollywood productions. Being more of a character study and less about the mythology, the film will attract a different audience, one that is getting something I don’t think they were expecting.
And that is always a good thing.