Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Midnight Son – review

Director: Scott Leberecht

Release date: 2011

Contains spoilers

Midnight Son is a film with a strange premise for the cause of the vampirism, though it is never fully explained, and thus offers us an unusual lore. It is also a gritty film that brought flicks such as Habit to mind, which to my way of thinking is no bad thing.

The film begins with main character Jacob (Zak Kilberg) waking. His bed has drapes around it. We see him getting ready for work and see him in the mirror of his bathroom. He is a security guard, working the night shift in an office building. On that night he notices that the janitor (Tracey Walter) has a sticking plaster on his temple, a spot of blood soaking through. He approaches, the man’s words of greeting are drowned out by a pounding rhythm, Jacob clutches at his own head and falls…

Zak Kilberg as Jacob
At home, behind his blacked out windows, Jacob paints the sun. It is one of many pictures of the sun he has created. His stomach rumbles and he eats and eats and eats but nothing assuages the hunger. He visits his doctor (Kevin McCorkle) who says that either he or his body is lying about the amount of food consumed as he shows all the signs of being malnourished. He suggests that Jacob might be developing anaemia but needs to run tests. At work the janitor asks how old Jacob is, when he says 24 the janitor suggests that the body stops growing at 25 and Jacob is in the last stages of something, like a caterpillar becoming a butterfly.

burnt arm
Having bought steak, and finding that it doesn’t fill him either, Jacob drinks the blood from the tray. This seems to calm his raging stomach and he goes to a bar. Outside he meets Mary (Maya Parish), who is selling candies and cigarettes. They talk and when asked if he finds working nights lonely he says he has no choice. He has a skin condition and shows her scarring on his arm caused by the sun. Like a vampire, she suggests with a smile.

testing the cross
Jacob is on his way to work when he goes into a late opened butchers and has the storekeeper carton up some blood. He transfers the blood into a coffee cup so that he can drink it incognito. He rents a vampire film and we see him watching a scene. Remarkably it isn’t Nosferatu (because it always seems to be, given the public domain nature of the film) but Fright Night. The scene is where Evil Ed is burnt by Peter Vincent’s cross. Jacob takes a cross and presses it against his head – to no effect.

Mary's blood
He calls Mary and they arrange to go out. She arrives at his place early and takes some cocaine, following which she comes on to him rather forcefully – not that he seems to mind. Unfortunately her nose begins to bleed over his face. She runs to the bathroom and he tastes her blood, causing a change within him that we see as convulsions and a pain in his head. When she emerges from the bathroom their conversation is at cross purposes; her talking about cocaine and he talking about what has just happened to him. From here-on-in animal blood will not suffice, he and Mary have a relationship interrupted by his condition and both of their insecurities, he meets Marcus (Jo D. Jonz) a hospital worker and dealer who will get him blood for a price and, on top of all that, Jacob becomes concerned that he may have murdered a woman but can’t quite remember.

burnt in the sun
So, where does the vampirism come from? We don’t know. He had an unnamed skin condition from being a child that kept him from the sun and this has developed into something more. How or why? The only clue we have is the enigmatic comment from the janitor (a comment that serves more to talk to the audience than the character). What we do know is that he craves blood, he can infect others by bite/saliva mingling with the victim’s blood, that wounds heal quickly (he sucks a bullet from someone shot and the bullet hole heals. Left in the sun a vampire burns down to their skeleton and a partial burn does not heal perfectly but leaves a scar.

eyes change
His eyes change colour when hungry/aroused but he has no fangs (I liked that his bite marks were proper teeth indentation – don’t be fooled by the DVD cover illustration), holy objects are not an issue and he casts a reflection. It seemed that he grew more aggressive with hunger and also as the condition developed. I really liked the enigma of the vampirism… it just was and once you buy the premise that he had a condition that seemed to mutate to quite a traditional vampire it just worked.

Maya Parish as Mary
The film is gritty, as I said, and has a slow building tension that mirrors the build of the condition. All the performances worked well and there is a very good chemistry between the two leads. Zak Kilberg offers a character who seems lethargic at times, but with moments of the real Jacob bursting through, a character who seems genuinely scared of what is happening to him and has our sympathy despite some of the more questionable things he does.

Jo D. Jonz as Marcus
All in all I rather enjoyed this film. It had a dark vibe that I enjoyed but also a pathos to it. The story was fairly simple but tight because of the simplicity, a good level of tension and the enigma we face worked, rather than becoming annoying because there was nothing there to allow us to solve it. 7.5 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

5 comments:

Margaret Schalliol said...

Finally got to see this one! I've been waiting for it to be released and didn't see when it finally came on video until I saw this review. It's funny how sometimes the simplest stories can be the best. There is nothing particularly groundbreaking here, but the director really did an excellent job with pacing the film and using little to do a lot. The film is so natural and the two leads (as you said) have good chemistry and are very believable. It's interesting that the story unfolds with the character clueless as to what is happening to him and his every man appeal really helps the audience to connect with him and helps draw them in. I was pretty impressed with this one, actually. There was nothing flashy about it, but that was part of its charm. An all around excellent little indie. Thanks for the great review of it!

Taliesin_ttlg said...

cheers Margaret, the release of this one did kind of sneak up on me to.

LoBo said...

I think this film sounds interesting. I will get the DVD next week. Good blog. I have it in my favourites.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Hi Lobo, thanks for the comment and glad you enjoy the blog.

Hope you enjoy the film when you see it, let us know what you think

LoBo said...

Yes, i will do that. Thank you for making this big elaborated blog.