Movie Review: 'We Are the Night'


Any true horror fan worth her or his salt will be able to glean that the German filmmakers Jan Berger (screenwriter) and Dennis Gansel (director) are pretty big fans of Kathryn Bigelow's 1987 vampire film Near Dark. Only about 15 minutes of their strange, kinetic, and enjoyably lightweight We Are the Night would be enough to indicate their affection for Eric Red's screenplay, so close does it hew to the central premise of that cult classic horror film. But despite a (big) handful of themes and ideas borrowed from a slightly obscure and appreciably better film, We Are the Night manages to periodically break through its familiar trappings, and it usually does so with something flashy, sexy, crazy, or gory.

Our protagonist is a clever little street urchin of a teenage girl who, while on the run from the cops, catches the attention of three hot vampire women. The leader is called Louise (Nina Hoss), and it seems she's been on the lookout for the perfect female companion for a VERY long time. Louise's two "daughters" are Nora (Anna Fischer), who is youthful, energetic and bouncy -- and Charlotte (Jennifer Ulrich), who is a 1930s era brunette with a steely gaze, a cold heart and a dour disposition. Young newcomer Lena (Karoline Herfurth) is at first intrigued, then scared, then thrilled with the life of a young vampiress, but her human side re-awakens when a kind-hearted cop gets too close to the bloodthirsty mini-coven. And you probably know the rest....

As mentioned earlier, this is pretty much the exact same premise of Ms. Bigelow and Mr. Red's Near Dark, a fantastic vampire flick altogether, only this time the location is Berlin, the vampires are all ladies, and the action scenes take place in different locations. To its invaluable credit, We Are the Night features some gorgeous cinematography and some energetic fight / chase / escape scenes -- because without those moments of eye candy, we'd be stuck listening to even more screenplay nonsense about eternal love and fragile humanity and how all the hot vampiresses miss the sun so darn much. And while We Are the Night stumbles and slows just as it should be picking up some real steam (that'd be Act III), there's little denying that this juicy German import offers some legitimately fun stuff. The old-school vampire fanatics will undoubtedly notice the stories that We Are the Night borrows from, but if the latest mash-up is actually sort of amusing, compelling, and cool -- where's the problem?

Much more of a matinee-style comic-booky genre movie than you'd probably expect from a German production, We Are the Night may not have all its own parts, but the final product pretty much reeks of enthusiastic filmmakers who wanted to bang out a slick, sexy, sometimes silly vampire tale. For the most part, I believe they've succeeded. What the film lacks in originality, it makes up for in energy. It's also well-cut, handsomely shot, and unapologetically pulpy. Bonus asset: the four leading ladies, lovelies all, are actually strong actresses across the board. Amazing how that helps.)

A note of bad news: while I do recommend the film, particularly to the vampire fans, I'd warn you to stay away from the VOD version that's currently available through IFC which has a horribly flat and loud and unconvincing "dub track." My advice would be this: if We Are the Night sounds intriguing, just wait for the DVD. That way you can watch it with subtitles, properly, and then later flip it over to the dub track ... just so you can hear how stupid it sounds.