Friday, July 15, 2005

Film — Night Watch

This was a heavy-duty premiere, complete with piracy-paranoia searching of bags and surrendering of videophones, as the Murdoch Empire condescended to permit the film to get its first outing here at the festival.

To a first approximation, this film is a Russian-made Underworld, loud, brash, driven by heavy dance music; a synthetic myth of conflict between hidden supernatural factions. But there is no glamour-girl in tight leather here to lead things off; rather a somewhat socially challenged chap who has become a reluctant vampire hunter after getting sucked into the secret conflict. And instead of refined high society, there is a run-down, almost 1950's air about this contemporary Moscow.

It is a visually effective piece of cinema, both in the images in the story; and also in the way that subtitling has been used — a vampire's call in red text that dissolves like swirls of blood in water; elsewhere sliding around the screen almost like thought balloons

Although the film boasted the only start-in-your-seat moment so far this season, there seemed to be an air almost of everyone sleepwalking through the plot, as things are thrown into look cool (like the owl presented to the protagonist, with no real back-story to her situation; Zebulon's sword), or to be sardonic Russian humour (the power-plant engineer cooking his supper on one of the steam pipes) and what looked like the main plot almost incidentally resolved as the film reaches an ending that had everything but an explicit “To be continued…”

Verdict: Mostly harmless

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