Review Date: 5/29/16
Director: Kathryn Bigelow
Music: Tangerine Dream
Cast: Adrian Pasdar, Jenny Wright, Lance Henriksen, Bill Paxton, Jenette Goldstein, Tim Thomerson
"Aliens" alumni Lance Henriksen, Bill Paxton, and Jenette Goldstein team up as viscious and sadistic vampires in this tense and disturbing horror thriller. Unsuspecting country boy Caleb (Adrian Pasdar) meets an alluring stranger one night (Jenny Wright), who happens to be a vampire. She turns him, and his life becomes a living hell as he fights to maintain his humanity and struggles to accept what he's become. To make matters worse, his new vampire friends are a nasty band of violent predators, drifting from town to town leaving murder and hayhem in their wake, and Caleb has to win their trust and respect or else they'll kill him for good. Caleb's family manages to track him down, which forces him to choose which side of the fight he's on.
It's a grim and brutal film, fuelled by sex, violence, and dark desires. Adrian Pasdar does a good job as the morally conflicted Caleb, but he's not particularly likable. In fact, no one in the film is particularly likable, with the possible exception of Tim Thomerson as Caleb's father. Creepy Lance Henriksen is appropriately menacing as the elder leader of the vampire gang, while Bill Paxton gives an unsettling performance as a violently psychotic killer. It's an interesting and modern take on vampirism, which treats the condition as a blood disease that stops aging, increases strength, and heightens the senses, while making the victim highly allergic to sunlight. Immortality drives people to madness and lawlessness, and the vampires in the film are cruel, jaded, and overall unpleasant. It's a modest production with a lot of good talent behind it, and while it does an excellent job of creating a tense and uncomfortable atmosphere, the pacing is dreadfully slow. The eerie music score by Tangerine Dream adds to the tension, while John Parr's "Naughty, Naughty" is a jarring reminder that the film was made in the 80's. "Near Dark" may be a cult favorite among vampire fans, but it wasn't what I was hoping for and it left me unfulfilled.