Nightwatch aka Nattevagten (1994)


Death is one certainty we all have to come to terms with. You can be a prize fighting bum or a sexy software gazillionaire, but in the end, we all end up naked, looking like a member of the blue man group, and bloated on a slab, with strangers poking and prodding your wobbly bits for funzies without a damn thing we can do about it; because the sentient part of us has long gone bye bye.

Elvis has left the building and there are nothing but the leftovers for the rest of the world to dine on.

It’s still your vessel though; your house, shall we say, so I it doesn’t give you much comfort when the subject of necrophilia pops up though does it? I mean if you go on holiday and your house gets burgled, you feel horrendously violated, so the idea of someone having relations (because apparently it isn’t always about the physical act, there is romance involved a lot of the time also. Yeah, like hearts and wreaths …) with your decomposing deadness, is just well … nobody wants that.

And the ones that do, are the exact sort of people you don’t wanna be hanging out with, but you probably would think would make an excellent character for a horror film.

Nightwatch is the story of a young law student, Martin, who takes a job as a security guard doing the graveyard shift (geddit?) in the city morgue, giving him a quiet time to study. It’s scarier than he anticipates as the bodies freak him out, and there is a serial killer on the loose who likes killing and scalping prostitutes to interrupt his study time. Oh and the killer wants to frame him for the crimes as well as getting him sacked from his job for having his own personal brothel in the freezers at work. Average work problems all round really.

This film is really a different class when it comes to your standard serial killer film, and the way the plot unfolds is almost surgically beautiful, in its tension and detachment. The main character Martin is almost an anti-hero in the way he is completely unlike-able, of his treatment of women, especially his condoning of the treatment of the prostitute Joyce, is almost sociopathic, in the way that if it does not affect him it doesn’t seem to matter. Unfortunately, because of circumstances, in this case, two of the most horrendous characters in the film do become heroes, not because they go through some miraculous change as individuals, but merely because they happened to do the right thing for once in their miserable lives, and to save their own skin.

I do like this sentiment though, because people aren’t always all good, or aren’t always all bad, and it’s realistic to write protagonists this way, even if it does make us want to throw things at the screen while we’re watching them a lot of the time.

This is a great film and is shoulders above the remake, as is always the case, but there is something about the Danish way of writing and film making that Hollywood just doesn’t seem to get, and always gets lost in translation. If you want sinister and sick, then go for the original every time.

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This entry was posted in 90's horror, film and media, horror, murder, Nineties horror, psychological horror, rape, Serial Killers, torture, Twist ending, Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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