NIGHT WATCH (NOCHNOI DOZOR)
With Konstantin Khabensky, Vladimir Menshov, Valery Zolotukhin, Maria Poroshina
Directed by Timur Bekmambetov
The only Russian films I've been exposed to over the decades were usually arthouse film festival fare with heady or heavy themes of struggles or historically pivotal moments. While many of those films have been great cinematic works, imagine my surprise and joy when this first in a horror / fantasy series made it to our shores. And with its innovative story and visual execution, this is pretty much a pivotal historic Russian moment.
Centuries ago the forces of light and darkness made a pact to co-exist amoung normal human beings on earth. They have officials patrolling to keep an eye on one another. When the rules are broken, they're sorted out. Those born into this alternative world have the choice to succumb to their lust for blood and join the dark forces, or turn to those of the light. This classic effect-laden good & evil film follows the events erupting after a man is trapped between these two factions and a destructive force threatening to destroy everything.
The fact that it wasn't dubbed into English is a bonus, giving the film an added dimension separating it from the regular American offerings (but, this will also prevent it from reaching Matrix box office potential, so I salute them for their non-Hollywood courage). Add to this the great action, non-familiar locations, lack of heroic big-name stars and innovative use of subtitles, and you've got a unique start to what is going to be a great series.
Classy, exciting and engaging.
The South African distributors messed it up badly though. On its opening week it was released in one single cinema in the Cape Town area (!) - and in a very poorly chosen geographic location. Eventually the independent Labia cinema also got a print. We tried to get it hooked up with our annual South African HorrorFest, but got no reply.
Hopefully all those who really wanted to see it on the big screen got the chance. If not, we hope the DVD release will be more successful.
6 / A
1 2 3 4 5 6
- A - B - C
5 - Blistering
4 - Hot
3 - Smolder
2 - Room Temperature
1 - Fizzled
0 - Extinguished