Director – Timur Bekmambetov
Cast – Konstantin Khabenskiy, Vladimir Menshov, Valeriy Zolotukhin, Mariya Poroshina
Release Year – 2004
Reviewed by John of the Dead
After hearing much mixed buzz over this Russian horror/fantasy flick that set box office records in Russia, I had been debating for a long time whether or not to catch this flick. Thanks to a friend of mine, I was provided with an opportunity to view this film and of course…I just can’t turn down a horror film. Heh.
Night Watch gives us a story involving humans known as “others”, whom have supernatural powers. The “others” are divided into two groups, the Light and the Dark. The Light and Dark sides eventually formed a truce, and all has been well for centuries. In 1992 an “other“ with no allegiance to either side caused a traumatic event that opened his eyes to the war. It is now present day(12 years later) and those actions are about to cause an all out war between the Light and Dark. With his allegiance to the Light, Anton must do battle on the streets and building’s of Moscow to bring peace back to the city.
This flick is one of those that is visually awesome, and that’s about it. Much like the film “Parasomnia“, this film is a technical masterpiece who’s story suffers from convolution. Based on the book “Nochnoy Dozor”, this film was a huge hit in Russia, and critically moderate everywhere else. Director Timur Bekmambetov did a good job with this film as far as direction goes. The film paced pretty well, and managed to keep my interest(mainly because of it’s visuals).
Mr. Bekmambetov is also a co-screenwriter for the film, and that is where he is at fault. I liked this film’s general story, as I am usually a fan of horror/fantasy flicks. However, here were so many different elements going on in the film, that at times you get confused as to which character is part of what group. It is most likely because of all these different things going on that this film also lacks substance. I honestly believe that this flick was poorly adapted from it’s book. Many horror films have been adapted from literary pieces, and the screenwriters were able to take as much from the book as possible while still giving us a good story. Night Watch’s adaptation seems like it was either rushed or the type of book that it is cannot be condensed into a sub-120 minute film. Luckily for my curiosity, there is a sequel to this film titled “Day Watch”, that I am going to check out in there very near future.
As you should have guessed by now…the camera work and cinematography for this film is amazing, as well as the overall atmosphere of the film. The fight scenes were pretty darn awesome, and the use of weaponry in this film was pretty darn creative. For instance, a modified flashlight(I believe it’s bulb emits UV rays) that can kill vampires at night? Sweet! The sets for the film were very well chosen, and I’m sure this film’s production manager is not going to have any problems winding work in the future. This is Russia people, a country not very known for their films, and I honestly believe this flick is Russia’s “The Matrix”.
Overall, this is a moderate film that will be positive to most people who watch this with an open mind and manage to be visually stimulated by this film’s amazing technical accomplishments. Recommended if you are curious to see what Russian cinema is all about.