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Marina Antunes [Celluloid 05.11.11] movie review news vampires

Year: 2011
Director: Scott Leberecht
Writer: Scott Leberecht
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: Marina Antunes
Rating: 7.5 out of 10

On the surface, the post-production delay of Scott Leberecht's Midnight Son could be a blessing in disguise. In 2008, the film may have faded quietly into the background like so many other indie films but with the public's current hunger for vampires, some may be much more willing to seek out Leberecht's film. They might find themselves immensely disappointed or they’ll look beyond the typically glossy and uninteresting Hollywood fare and discover an intimate tale of vampirism grounded in reality.

From an early age, Jacob has been sick, suffering from a debilitating condition that forces him to avoid sunlight and live his life in the shadows. He works, he goes out, he socializes (awkwardly) but all of it is done under the cover of darkness. After years of living his life this way, changes start to occur. He finds himself feeling sick all of the time and hungry even after a meal and his inability to feel satisfied draws him to uncommon selections. Eventually he discovers that animal blood makes him feel better. And then it doesn’t and Jacob finds himself back where he started only in worse shape.

If his deteriorating physical and mental condition isn't enough, Jacob also begins a relationship with Mary, a woman he meets at a bar. He's desperate for company and it seems that she is too and the two quickly develop a friendly relationship that immediately hits some speed bumps. But Jacob is smitten and he finds himself sharing some of his problems with the young woman and the two damaged individuals find solace in each other.

Leberecht's film is very much a quiet tale of desperation; Jacob's in trying to figure out what is wrong with him and Mary's in her search for comfort and love. The vampire aspect of the story makes for a interesting twist of events but because Leberecht's story doesn't follow the typical aspects of vampire lore, it's not always clear in which direction the story is going. Leberecht picks and chooses which aspects of the canon to use and which ones to leave out, along the way creating his own unique take on the vampire. There are no explanations as to why Jacob is the way he is and I found myself learning the ropes with him; a nice change for a film in a genre with such strong canon.

With Jacob's desperation comes distress and Midnight Son is an exercise in acceptance and understanding and of finding someone who truly understands and accepts you regardless of the situation. With minimal effects and even less action, the film relies exclusively on the actor's abilities to sell the story and Zak Kilberg in the role of Jacob does so with quiet emotion. He's in nearly every scene of the film and I couldn’t look away from his growing desperation and eventually realization of his condition. For her part, Maya Parish as Mary is a little less nuanced but no less appealing.

It's hard to guess where Midnight Son is headed and the ending, though a little shocking, felt like a natural next step for these characters who have come to realize there are few other options left for them. This isn't a sexy vampire movie; Leberech and company don't eroticize Jacob’s condition or the taking of blood. There's a feeling of desperation and having bottomed out and Leberecht makes a point to show how the blood is acquired and it's not the sexy and romantic bite on the neck accompanied by swelling music followed by characters looking beautiful and content.

I really enjoyed Midnight Son with its sense of desperation and loss and its commitment to Jacob's painful self discovery. Considering it's not a big glossy and beautiful offering, it’s bound to turn away the casual viewer that comes wondering into its path but those willing to give this indie a look are in for a treat.

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quietearth (11 years ago) Reply

No doubt, this flick was great.


Nigel Floyd (10 years ago) Reply

Midnight Son is screening at FrightFest in London in August.

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