Let’s be honest – vampire films have been a bit rubbish recently. We all know who and what’s to blame (and we must not give it life by speaking its name here) but when you turn something that’s supposed to be scary, gory, sexy and fraught with danger into something soppy, dull and watered-down for mass consumption then quality goes out of the window in favour of the quick buck. There have been flashes of some film makers trying to bring back a bit of edge to the genre; recent films like Thirst, Daybreakers, Let Me In and the Fright Night remake have all tried to bring the genre back to a certain aesthetic but the shadow of that-which-must-not-be-named looms large over any film that comes out under the vampire umbrella.
We Are the Night is a German vampire film that is both refreshingly modern and yet gives a respectful nod to the past, and is thoughtful and intelligent without wallowing in any self-pity or sense of empty or unfounded melancholy. The film begins with a petty criminal named Lena (Karoline Herfurth) picking the pocket of a known pimp and attracting the attention of a detective named Tom (Max Riemelt). Lena gives Tom the slip and later that night goes to a mysterious underground club where she is courted by the club’s owner Louise (Nina Hoss), who has taken a shine to the young thief. Louise is the leader of a group of beautiful female vampires and turns Lena into a bloodsucker so they can be together forever, but Lena is not entirely convinced by the glamorous partying lifestyle that Louise and her acolytes can offer her once the killing begins and it isn’t long before the smitten Tom is back on Lena’s trail, but when it comes to the crunch where will his loyalties lie?
It’s easy to see why, on the surface at least, this film is drawing comparisons to The Lost Boys – it has the slick, stylish looks, the young victim drawn in by the sexier, older vampire and a witty script, but this is really where the similarities end as We Are the Night takes a lot more from the likes of the 1971 Belgian film Daughters of Darkness, which also touches on the subjects of immortality and eroticized power play. The main characters, whilst looking stunning and having everything they desire available to them, are all damaged in some way and the film plays on the theme of tragedy in the same way that Werner Herzog’s Nosferatu the Vampyre does, although where Klaus Kinski’s Count Dracula was still evil in his wretchedness the vampires here aren’t necessarily bad by definition; they’re just out looking for a good time.
As far as negatives go the deliberately slow pace does start to wear a bit when there isn’t much happening onscreen. Not that it’s ever boring but there are moments where a little bit of hustle might have added something. Ironically, though, it’s the climax of the film that does exactly that and hurries to a conclusion that doesn’t fit with the rest of the film, although it doesn’t really take anything away from what you’ve already seen.
Overall, We Are the Night is a well-crafted film that draws its inspiration from some of the best films of the genre and adds a few neat touches of its own. The special effects are very good and don’t go down the path of overly-obvious CGI, the cast are all fantastic in their roles and for the true vampire connoisseur there is a lot to be taken away from this film. However, for those seeking something a little more mainstream pandering or something with a little more gratuitous nudity – despite the lesbian overtones there is very little titillation here, so don’t get too excited – then you’ll have to get your romantic or sexual kicks from other sources. So despite the rushed ending the overall effect is of a classy and intelligent modern vampire film that will appeal to an audience that craves a little more from the standard genre fare.