The vampire is easily the most classic of all genre film creatures, with its presence in film and pop culture never in the position of being described as non-existent. Yet, if there ever was a time aside from the Universal Monster and Hammer eras where we would consider the subject to be over-saturating the market, it would be now. Whether one personally contributes this to an actual glut of vampire films or the headline making franchise that leaves a bad taste in most horror fans’ mouths, the real problem with the equally ferocious and romanticized undead is that previously explored territory is being mined to death in lieu of real innovation. Unfortunately, this is the same issue that plagues Dennis Gansel’s We Are The Night, a German import that’s more run-of-the-mill than downright terrible.
Night borrows entire sequences and ideas from older – and better – vampire cinema, and never manages to fill in the gaps with something truly compelling. Using The Lost Boys as a template and substituting glam rock for gaudy glamour, the film begins as petty thief Lena (Karoline Herfurth) narrowly escapes being arrested by Tom (Max Riemelt), who finds her somewhat charming despite her criminal tendencies. Heading to a rave later that evening to pick more pockets, she meets Louise (Nina Hoss), a centuries old vampire who believes she has been searching for the androgynous Lena her entire undead life and turns her on a whim. When her “growing pains” begin to make their presence known, Lena returns to the club and is indoctrinated into the group, which also consists of silent film star Charlotte (Jennifer Ulrich) and the spastic Nora (Anna Fischer).
The women live the most lavish lifestyle they can, filled with drugs, booze, fast cars and the latest fashions. But, the high life alone does not fulfill the soulless and the group feeds on the innocent, much to Lena’s dismay. It’s only a matter of time, though, before the trail of destruction and bodies they leave behind night after night leads the newly-indoctrinated vamp’s beau to their doorstep.
The inclusion of Charlotte and Nora seems somewhat pointless, as their back story and presence never really amounts to much save for the smallest amounts of comic relief. The dual love stories never bring the plot to a screeching halt, but the initial attraction between Lena and Tom is somewhat confusing. She evades, quickly changes clothes, fools him at first, kicks him square in the nuts and rashly jumps onto a passing boat to escape. Nothing about that would normally make a guy interested in a woman. The relationship between the vampires, on the other hand, strikes the same chords that Lemora and Daughters Of Darkness did decades ago, but is still the more fleshed out and believable of the two.
The most interesting idea presented in the film is the absence of male vampires, but it’s dismissed almost as quickly as it’s brought up. As it stands, the minuet detail is thrown in just so the film can continue to thrive as a lesbian vampire flick (an unsexy one at that), as if we don’t have enough of those. Because of this angle, the action set pieces are kept to a minimum while the bonding and teaching moments are brought to the forefront. But when they are there, they’re well done, even if the best of the bunch rips off Near Dark.
We Are The Night is as conventional as possible, with Gansel and Jan Berger’s screenplay eschewing ingenuity for premises and scenes that were more easily stolen from other films. The concoction they managed to throw together – which was reportedly rewritten because it resembled Twilight a little too much – is bland and forgettable, proving that just because the ideas seen at play in vampire films are becoming as immortal as the creatures themselves, it doesn’t mean they should be.