Thursday, June 13, 2013

Midnight Son (2011) : Not Your Kid Sister's Vampire Film

For months this film has been on my radar and I have actually owned it for quite a while, so I figured it was high time to watch the damned thing. 

As a relatively huge vampire fan, it was a given that I'd have to try out the latest in emo-vampire offerings. But this is no Twilight. Thank heavens.

More akin to Martin than teenage angst, Scott Leberecht's Midnight Son is a rather fresh breath of air in an all too stagnant sub-genre.

Jacob (Zak Kilberg), on first glance, seems like a pretty normal kind of guy. He works the night shift as a security guard and is content to hang out in his basement apartment painting in his spare time. Ordinarily this might be a real turn on to the ladies - a brooding artistic type who is sensitive and oddly alluring.

Upon further inspection though, Jacob is a very lonely young man. He lives by himself and it's quite clear he doesn't have any real friends to speak of. It's not due to any obvious reason, as he is, as previously mentioned, rather attractive (kind of a Jude Law-lite) and holds down a decent job. But not only is he quite peaked, he has a skin disorder which prevents him from being in the sun. That would be your first clue, if you haven't already gotten there. 

I'm not spoiling anything by telling you flat-out that Jacob is a vampire. I'm sure they mention it on the DVD case and every review from here to Hong Kong.  What is different about Midnight Son though, is the ongoing realization that Jacob comes to, trying to grasp all the various problems this "condition" presents.  He realizes he cannot eat regular food, in fact it repulses him. Once he drinks blood (and how he comes to that awareness) is part of the heart of the story.  Think it's easy to pick up chicks once you are conscious that you are somehow not  like everyone else? It's not.

But when Jacob meets Mary (Maya Parish) outside a bar one night, they have an instant chemistry that leads Mary down a very dangerous road with her new beau. Though truth be told, she may be more of a danger to herself than he is, with a bad cocaine habit that helps (a little too conveniently) forward the story by having her get a nosebleed at an intimate moment in their relationship.

Regarding the painting hobby ("...a hobby should pass the time, not fill it" ~Psycho ) Jacob has plenty of examples of his work at his apartment, and Mary tells him he may really have something, that his talent should be investigated. She eventually gets him set up with a show at a gallery, though Jacob can't face all the potential customers and skips the event.  At this point, he is more worried about getting his latest fix of blood, as he has a friend at the hospital that is able to provide more than enough of the red stuff for him. Because Jacob is so obsessed with getting the blood, he neglects to comprehend just how his "friend" is getting his hands on all the plasma. Another important rule for vampires: pay attention.

The short running time (a brief 88 minutes) is perfect, as the story is sparse and elaboration would be pointless. What makes it so unique is how the love story within evolves. This is a character-driven tale, and when these two lost souls find each other, forces of nature (and beyond) pull them apart only to reconnect them several times throughout.  Jacob is very afraid of intimacy because he's not sure he can control himself, and indeed there are a few moments in which you think he won't be able to stop his dangerous tendencies.  Mary, on the other hand, is trying hard to help Jacob open up, and finds herself trying to stop her drug habit after assuming (incorrectly, in part) that it is a turn-off and the main reason Jacob keeps pulling away.

When Jacob's bad red habit has him disregarding human life, that's when you know things are coming to a breaking point.  The authorities are beginning to suspect Jacob in a series of crimes, and as they draw nearer, Jacob and Mary get closer.
 To disclose any more would be a disservice to those who have yet to see this fine film. 

So if you haven't seen it, give Midnight Son a chance. You may be pleasantly surprised that a vampire film can still be unique.

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