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Rick McGrath [Film Festival 10.25.11] movie review news vampires

Year: 2011
Director: Scott Leberecht
Writer: Scott Leberecht
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: Rick McGrath
Rating: 8.5 out of 10

Think it’s fun to be a vampire? A lot of vampires seem to think so… but as Midnight Son reveals, perhaps it’s not so much fun to become a vampire, especially if it’s in your DNA and you’ve lost your owner’s manual. This is a story of vampire metamorphosis – emphasis on the details of change – as revealed by an outsider vampire-in-creation struggling with life, love, and an insatiable desire to drink human blood.

Much as Let The Right One In expanded vampire lore with genital mutilation and how to obtain a new Igor, Midnight Son offers up the possibility vampires may be born, not bitten. Our subject is Jacob, a sort of Oskar-like meekling who undergoes a series of physical symptoms while his shamed and unbelieving mind lags behind his new desires. At least for awhile. What eventually evolves from Midnight Son is a generalized lesson on how vampirism can start and build, and the kinds of extremes this particular person will undertake to obtain blood… and think about it – is it easy to get human blood if you’re not taking it from a human? Most vampires want to sink the fangs as quickly as possible, but in this instance there is no biting, no burning crosses, reflectionless mirrors, etc. As far as we’re let on, Jacob is fixated on drinking blood – first from animals, then humans. It has an effect on him – stops his growling stomach, fixes the dark patches above and below his eyes, and changes his pupils back to normal. And he seems happier, more active, outgoing. Like an addict, he needs more, more often. Not easy to do. Fortunately, Jacob lucks into a few slurpy situations, but as his obsession escalates it becomes even finally apparent to him that he is what he is, someone who has killed for blood, and his future has at last become clear. If he’s changed from a caterpillar to a butterfly, he knows exactly what nectar he likes best.

A number of elements give this movie top rankings, with perhaps the highest praise going to writer/director Scott Leberecht’s incredible skill of pace and timing. There’s something soft and flowing about the way the story meanders along, the slow reveal of Jacob’s symptoms, the tight precise storyline and the inexorable, yet open-ended conclusion of this rather unique coming-of-age story. The measured, yet almost lyrical unfolding of the next phase of change keeps your attention glued to the action, as this plot features zero foreshadowing and each step and misstep veers off like a lurching zombie. Whoops, sorry, wrong genre. Mention must also be made of the great cinematography by Lyn Moncrief, especially good in many of the film’s cramped and close-up scenes.

The acting is also great. Jacob’s transformation from social outcast with no future to social outcast with a new life, a mate – and at least four dead – is superbly portrayed by Zak Kilberg, who reveals his physical and mental transformation with a deft and wide-ranging performance. Kudos too to Jo D. Jonz, the excited and violent hospital cleaning staffer who becomes Jacob’s blood supplier. His fate perhaps shows the downside of vampirism, and offers a hint as to Jacob’s ultimate end. Maya Parish is competent as the slightly sleazy Mary, but for some reason she and Kilberg never seemed to generate much onscreen magic – perhaps she looks too healthy for a hustling coke addict. Her kind of addiction is not set opposite Jacob’s lust for blood directly, but there’s always that connection lurking in the background.

Midnight Son. In hindsight it almost has a kind of documentary feel – another report from the field – which, when coupled with the quasi-romantic subplot, makes this a rather interesting, objective movie – it’s about a vampire, but isn’t interested in re-exploring the pantheon of vampire mythology. We drink blood, we can’t stand sunlight, and our eyes go creepy golden when we’re hungry. We don’t fetishize our condition, we understand it and do what is necessary to survive. There ya go. What’s left is a romantic comedy/drama, as the inexperienced Jacob and overexperienced Mary fumble through starting a relationship and Jacob deals with his new and confusing imperatives, often with darkly comic results.

At the end of the day – or should I say – at the beginning of the night, Midnight Son is a clever and compelling story about the final metamorphosis of a boy into a vampire man. What goes on in that cocoon may not be pretty, but it sure is interesting. Highly recommended.

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