|starring||Zak Kilberg, Maya Parish, Jo D. Jonz, Arlen Escarpeta, Larry Cedar, Tracey Walte|
|trailer 1||Trailer #1|
Some of the best vampire movies don’t stick to the classic fangs and widow’s peak clichés we’ve become accustomed to. Hell, Near Dark never even uses the word ‘vampire’ once in the movie and it’s still an incredible film. Midnight Son, written and directed by Scott Leberecht, follows the same lead in a Martin-esque style, telling the story of a young man coming to terms with bodily changes he’s experiencing. Changes that could be building to his full transformation into a vampire.
The gradual, believable build of these changes are only part of what makes this movie so good; Zak Kilberg as possible vampire Jacob is the other part. Tall, thin, pitiful – Kilberg’s even kind of pretty – awkward, but pretty. All of the elements that lead to a sympathetic character that the audience desperately wants to survive. Night watchman Jakob meets Mary (Maya Parish), a coke addicted bartender – who is also struggling to figure life out – and a romance quickly develops. Mary is drawn to Jakob’s drawings of sunrises: she is always trying to see something special within them while he cannot actually see at all as the rays burn his skin within seconds. Even with a deep connection the same issue is constantly interrupting their intimacy: blood. From Mary’s coke nosebleeds to Jakob’s urge to drink blood – the two are brought together and torn apart – making for a convincing, intense love story.
Midnight Son is just that: intense. But the force is not what most would expect: the potency comes from purposely-framed shots, moments of stress and pain shown on Jakob’s face, and universal feelings of claustrophobia. While there is some action, the feats that characters must conquer have the most punch and the romantic elements are more believable than most anything portrayed in film today. Midnight Son is an intelligent, beautiful movie that deserves a second viewing.
Extras on the DVD include the standard commentary with Scott Leberecht and Zak Kilberg. Also included are a few very short deleted scenes that actually would add continuity if inserted back into the film, having to deal with the building of Mary’s character for the most part. The largest extra, and the best, are interviews with the cast and crew. Writer/Director Scott Leberecht gives great insight as to the inspiration for the film, what vampire lore he wanted to concentrate on and how being a vampire fan sculpted his own characters. Zak Kilberg speaks of what drew him to the role, how he prepared and how filming at night was beneficial to him. Maya Parish is delightful in her interview – a huge contrast from the dark, addicted Mary. She will hopefully, along with Kilberg, get more roles from this piece.
The trailer on the DVD gives a few too many glimpses into the ending of the movie, yet still provides exactly what a trailer should provide – the need and want to see the film. The only complaint about this DVD is the box art, which features a classic two puncture vampire bite on Mary’s neck. After viewing this lovely gem, I feel this marketing gimmick will trick people into thinking the movie is far from what it truly is. Presenting it as a clichéd vampire flick, in the end, only takes away from the film’s true beauty. Midnight Son is too refreshing to think of it as anything other than extraordinary.
One of my favorite vampire films of all time is George Romero’s classic 1977 Martin, a film that provided the kind of “open-minded” thinking we so desperately need in the horror genre. ILM visual effects art director Scott Leberecht makes his directorial debut with Midnight Son, a pic heavily inspired by the Romero masterpiece.
With vampirism at the top of its popularity, Leberecht has the difficult task of standing out in an industry overflowing with unfocused garbage cashing in on the recent craze. Midnight Son, even with it’s independent budget and look, stands tall above most and deserves the recognition (the main reason I’ve opted to write this review instead of eating lunch).
Midnight Son, a realistic coming-of-age story, drops us right into Jacob’s (Zak Kilberg) world where, at the ripe age of 24, he’s begun noticing changes in his body. While he’s always had an intense sensitivity to sunlight, he just now develops a taste for blood. Food just isn’t cutting it anymore. During his struggle to define himself, and understand his physical change, he meets Mary (Maya Parish), a local bartender, and falls in love. Mary continually sticks by his side even through some freakish moments (like when his eyes turn yellow) and eventually gets stuck in the middle of a quagmire involving Jacob and some black market blood suppliers (played by Jo D. Jonz and the awesome Arlen Escarpeta).
The bleak, indie cinematography adds to the realistic nature of the film. It’s dark, dirty, and claustrophobic, perfectly reflecting Jacob’s internal/external torment. While not heavily soaked in blood, there are some gory moments, especially the finale that verbally had me exclaiming “OMFG.”
Midnight Son is one of those films that truly needs everything to come together in order for it to work. Kilberg and Parish’s performances are captivating, with Parish’s beauty – in a believable, not model kind of way – being impossible to look away from. The brooding score blended into the dreary cinematography gives nerve to each and every scene. Most notably is the screenplay by Leberecht that never doubts itself for a second, driving home the idea that this is real life.
This slow-paced vampire film puts the boot to most (other vampire flicks) and deserves much more praise than it will get. Strangely quiet on the PR front (this came out of left field), Midnight Son is an impeccable, daring and undoubtedly remarkable debut.