When it comes to horror archetypes – the zombie, the vampire, Frankenstein’s monster, etc – it becomes harder and harder with each passing year to do something very different with them. The years, and wealth of previous movie and literary incarnations, weigh heavily upon each subsequent attempt to try something new. That’s why most of the time I end up giving credit to people who have at least tried to provide viewers with something fresh, even if the end product isn’t entirely successful. Midnight Son is one of those movies but I will also say that it’s one that comes closer than most to being a complete success. When I am watching a vampire movie and start to compare it favourably to Near Dark and Cronos then I think that’s a very good sign.
Now I don’t want those words to come back at some point and bite me on the ass. I am not saying that this movie is as good as those classics. I am saying that it tries to put a very different spin on a subgenre that can often be seen as a bit long in the tooth. Oh yes, I just made that joke.
Writer-director Scott Leberecht gives viewers a solid character study that just happens to be about someone afflicted with a condition that means he must stay out of sunlight and gets a thirst now and again for a particular fluid that we all carry around in our veins. Zak Kilberg plays this poor unfortunate, named Jacob, and while he finds himself going through some worrying changes he meets two very different people who will become important to him. One is Mary (played by Maya Parish), a woman who he seems to hit it off with from their very first moments together, and the other is Marcus (Jo D. Jonz), a hospital worker who might be able to supply Jacob with the blood that he now craves, for a price.
With decent performances from everyone involved (including Arlen Escarpeta as the brother of Marcus and Larry Cedar as a detective who finds himself with some unusual deaths to investigate) , one or two nice surprises in the mix and a storyline that develops organically, Leberecht has much to be proud of. The script isn’t full of instantly quotable dialogue but it’s concise and smart, treating viewers as adults while also having a little fun with the standard ingredients of most vampire tales. The same can be said about the direction, the movie won’t ever be mistaken for a Hollywood blockbuster but it does an exceptional job of covering up any shortcomings and keeping viewers both intrigued and entertained.
I’ll be very interested to see what Leberecht does in the future because he proves here that he’s a very talented guy, well worth keeping an eye on.
Midnight Son receives a very limited UK theatrical release on 11th January before hitting disc form on 11th February. The disc includes the trailer, a decent audio commentary with Scott Leberecht, Zak Kilberg, Maya Parish and Jo D. Jonz, some deleted scenes and some interviews with cast and crew members, making it a fairly decent package.
WRITER/DIRECTOR: SCOTT LEBERECHT
STARS: ZAK KILBERG, MAYA PARISH, JO D. JONZ, ARLEN ESCARPETA, LARRY CEDAR
RUNTIME: 88 MINS APPROX