FILM REVIEW NIGHTWATCH 2004
An epic scale big budget horror movie from Russia, with Matrix quality special effects. This is the first of a proposed trilogy (the second film, Daywatch, is also out). This is a perfect film to show people who dislike subtitled movies, as it is totally engaging and visually stunning throughout.
The plot is quite straightforward, taking the battle between the forces of good and evil to a very literal level. In a cod-medieval period, the armies of darkness and light engage in an apocalyptic battle, but their generals quickly realize that the army’s tare too evenly matched and balanced. To maintain the fight will result in the mutual annihilation of both armies. They settle on an uneasy truce and vow to police one another’s forces. The Nightwatch are the guardians of Good, checking the activity of vampires, demons, etc. The Daywatch monitor the angels and ensure that they follow the rules too.
Both sides cut corners and attempt to bypass the rigid codes. The forces of good are prepared to use a means to an end and the simple black and white morality code gets very fuzzy at the edges. Prophesies indicate the rise of a significant ‘Other’, a being who will choose one side (Light or Darkness) over the other, and tip the balance in favour of victory of that force over its opponent. The film quickly moves the action to the present day when the other is created.
We see a young man trying to secure the services of a witch to force his errant girlfriend to have a miscarriage of the child of her other lover, to ensure that she returns to his affections. The spell making by the witch is prevented by the agents of Nightwatch, who most humans see as mere mosquitoes in the air, but the young man sees them in action, and they realize that he is himself a latent supernatural entity, taking him under their control.
Twelve years on, it is apparent that the surviving child is the other, and both sides set out to engineer his future in their own army of Light or Darkness. A rogue vampire is unleashed to turn him into a creature of the night. The Nightwatch guards try to protect him, but he has a powerful sense of free will and ultimately makes his own shocking choice.
There is great inventiveness at work here, in the medieval battles, the shape shifting human owl, toys and ornaments that spring to life on spider legs, a soldier able to take out his own spine to use it as a sword, and an ambulance with jet propulsion.
If there is a flaw it is the absence of any humans in the story – virtually all the characters are supernatural entities or their victims. There are some great moments of tension maintained throughout the film; a troubled power station, and a crashing plane that might or might not finally be destroyed.
Stay with the film for its closing credits, as the Russian Rap music closing soundtrack recap of the plot is ingenious.