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.