The casual movie fans love their vampire flicks, to be sure: from the original Nosferatu and Dracula and their endless sequels to the Hammer renditions and the Anne Rice adaptations and the Twilights. Some could argue that the vampire has long since transcended the horror genre and has become a little, well, toothless, in the process. But for those who choose to look beyond the obvious choices on the new release shelf, there's a fairly consistent stream of vampiric cinema worth diving into. It may be a surprisingly solid studio flick like 30 Days of Night, but more often than not we'll get something "fresh" from the vampire sub-genre out of the indie circuit like Midnight Son.
Scott Leberecht's low-budget winner Midnight Son most definitely falls into a niche that includes George Romero's Martin, Kathryn Bigelow's Near Dark, Michael Almereyda's Nadja, and Abel Ferrara's The Addiction: vampire flicks with little in the way of budget but plenty in the way of new angles, cool ideas, challenging deviations from formula, and very fine performances. Despite a few familiar tropes and a slightly slow beginning, Midnight Son is precisely the sort of indie film that guys like me love to "discover."
Our hero, of sorts, is an aimless but oddly likable young guy called Jacob (Zak Kilberg) who finds himself dealing with some rather strange changes. His skin is overly-sensitive, he has a sudden aversion to sunlight, and he craves meat of the exceedingly raw variety. Fans of horror fiction will of course figure out what's wrong with Jacob long before he does, but writer/director Scott Leberecht deftly avoids a rote or predictable arc for his central character. And just when Jacob's tale starts to feel just a little bit ... anemic, up pops a love interest named Mary (Maya Parish), and that's when Midnight Son turns from a clever (if slightly familiar) indie horror tale to a truly captivating romance that's laced with dark ideas and refreshingly effective gallows humor.
Though the first-time filmmaker deserves a solid parcel of praise for delivering a horror tale that's both personal and strangely emotional, it's the two leads who sell the material time and time again. Kilberg and Parish are nothing short of excellent, particularly as the film goes on and the couple withstands some truly unpleasant roadblocks in their relationship. Like most good horror stories, Midnight Son takes the surreal, the bizarre, and the tragic, and uses those components to make a point or two about simple, basic humanity.