We Are the Night

ON

Opening in limited release May 25

Cast:

Karoline Herfurth as Lena

Nina Hoss as Louise

Jennifer Ulrich as Charlotte

Anna Fischer as Nora

Directed by Dennis Gansel

Review:

Rarely, does the vampire genre ever see anything new brought to the table. These days, filmmakers rely on previously tread formulas in which to tell their story. There’s the usual “a vampire’s out to kill us!” approach. Or, you might get the “vampire hunter” adventure. Then, the old faithful, “I’m a vampire? Now what?” where an innocent guy or gal struggles with their newfound bloodlust and powers. We’ve seen this arguably best told in Near Dark and The Lost Boys – two films the German import We Are the Night owes a great deal of thanks. In fact, with a slight reworking of this film’s names and locations, Gansel could have a template for that Lost Girls sequel Joel Schumacher always wanted to do. We Are the Night is nothing we haven’t seen before. The environments, the action, the bloodshed…it all has a slick veneer, but it has all been done. And with more captivating characters.

Director Gansel starts the picture off intriguing enough, introducing the film’s trio of female vampires through a photo gallery that carries the viewers back through centuries. And there’s a pretty cool scene to follow featuring the vampy vixens – Louise, Nora and Charlotte – as they snack on the crew and passengers of a private jet before leaping out into the night sky over Berlin. The picture’s momentum shortly thereafter doesn’t hit the pause button, necessarily, once we’re introduced to the skull-faced street thief named Lena, but it reads like a well-known story beat list. See if you agree with me.

• Louise puts the bite on Lena and welcomes her into the vampire family.

• Lena resists, furthermore, is unwilling to drink blood…at first.

• Lena falls for a cop who has been tracking the trail of bodies left in the vampire quartet’s wake. Alas, she can’t be with him because, well, she’s a vampire.

It really is a by-the-numbers affair that’s a bit amusing in its secondary characters: the colorful pixy Nora – who serves as a DJ in Louise’s underground night club – and the sadly under-developed Charlotte, a silent film starlet. Gansel’s primary focus is Louise and Nina Hoss effectively channels her character’s desperation for a partner, which she hopes to find in Lena. It’s Louise’s journey that gives this film shades of Daughters of Darkness as well. Lena, meanwhile, struggles to fight against the dominating personalities of the vampire clique, but Karoline Herfurth’s performance doesn’t make the impact it should when Lena eventually takes charge.

Where the film lacks in innovation, it makes up for in the action. Louise’s vampire clan have a ball abusing their powers (drink and do drugs, without any worry of addiction!) and beating the shit out of men when they need to. There’s a big shoot ‘em up daylight raid sequence that’s ripped from Near Dark, still, it’s engaging. And the gravity-defying finale is a kick to watch, too. But I wish Gansel utilized the same energy he injected into his visuals to explore some of the back story his characters allude to halfway through the film. For instance, there are no male vampires in We Are the Night‘s world, and the female bloodsuckers had a lot to do with that decision. Now that’s a story I’m interested in seeing. Unfortunately, this is merely passed off in a passage of trite exposition.

Possibly the film’s biggest error is the lack of sex appeal. Look at that poster. Nothing in this film competes with that and what it desperately needed was a dose of simmering sex appeal akin to the aforementioned Daughters of Darkness, Countess Dracula, or even 1975’s Vampyres.

We Are the Night is nothing more than an unfortunate case of cannibalism; foreign cinema feasting on U.S. vampire fare and repurposing it into a determined-to-be-cool, but derivative tale.