I wish I hadn’t bothered!
Screenplay By: Timur Bekmambetov & Laeta Kalogridis
Directed By: Timur Bekmambetov
Listening to recommendations doesn’t always lead you down the right path. My reviews are evidence enough of that. I am sure that for every single one of my readers there has been at least one movie that I recommended that you ended up hating. Or the opposite has been true, movies I have told you to avoid ended up being favorites of yours. That is why movies are so subjective, what works for one may not work for another, and that’s why in movie discussion there is never any right or wrong view, even if all of us like to think we are right all the time. Nochnoy Dozor is a film that has been on my to watch list for some time now, based on a high recommendation from a podcast I frequent, Sci-Fi Dig. Well, as we just discussed movies are subjective and this is one recommendation I can’t go along with.
Before I go through the litany of problems I had with Nochnoy Dozor let’s get the few positives out of the way. I liked the way the subtitles blended in with the picture. I have heard that this may have been done before Nochnoy Dozor, but this was the first I have ever seen it and it was interesting to say the least. I loved the inclusion of an episode from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, because not only is Buffy cool, but it reminded me of a worthwhile vampire treatment.
That’s it for the positive, and that should tell you something. I had so many notes scribbled down that rip Nochnoy Dozor to shreds, but personally it would be a waste of my time to list them all. I’ll try to keep this as succinct as possible, and I’ll start with a simple conclusion, the story is nothing more than convoluted horse shit. Here’s an idea, let’s take what we like from a ton of different vampire myths and leave out what we don’t like, we’ll even toss in a few variances of our own. But here’s the kicker, we won’t explain anything so that the viewer has no idea what the physics or structure of this universe is and therefore is in a perpetual state of confusion, that’s cool, huh? It may have seemed like a good idea on paper, although I fail to see how that could be, but it bombs in execution.
I hear people rag on directors like Uwe Boll, and I don’t get it. He makes terrible films, but he makes terrible films that are fun and entertaining. I can’t stand directors like Timur Bekmambetov, with this and Wanted he has vaulted to the top of my least favorite directors currently working. His direction is overbearing, not a single second of Nochnoy Dozor can be allowed to just happen. There always has to be some sort of slow down/speed up with the camera, he has to shoot from odd angles, and worst of all CGI has to be used for everything. I think we have reached absurd levels when it’s deemed necessary by a director to show the ringing of a buzzer or the ignition of a truck in CGI. I’ll take fun and entertaining yet terrible over simply terrible any day of the week.
I’m going to try and touch on only a few more subjects, because I can already see my hatred for this film and its director is getting the best of me. Let’s talk about message, or how Nochnoy Dozor doesn’t bother with a message that makes sense. Visually and within the action of the movie as well as the thoughts of its main character Nochnoy Dozor goes out of its way to present the idea that the light are no better than the dark. Then, after so much time is spent on this idea we have a closing narration that washes away any gray the movie tried to establish and once again paints an easy black & white picture with the light as the good guys and the dark as bad guys.
There are other bad memories, like the hideous choreography. Every fight scene is filmed in strikingly bad fashion, so bad that I could do nothing but laugh at times. The climax of the curse lifting saga is as anti-climatic as you can get and also leads into the problem of characters we could care less about and a world where every person and their brother seems to be an Other with no reason given for why they are an Other or who isn’t one. The idea of The Gloom is handled haphazardly and never makes any sense, it doesn’t help that it’s shot so that it’s more distracting than interesting. Finally, my biggest gripe with the film is its sense of self-importance that plays out in its overly melodramatic tone. The scene with Anton being brought to Gesser’s office exemplifies this problem. The elongated yelling, dragging him across the conference table instead of just carrying him to Gesser’s desk, the speed up effect, etc.. So overly dramatic and so, so bad.
There are other things I could get into, like the idea of The Call being incredibly stupid. What’s the point of a call to your victim if any Joe Schmo that sees him on the street can command him to do whatever they want? But, I digress, in summation Nochnoy Dozor is a terrible film, a waste of your time. Avoid this movie like the plague, and in lieu of a recommendation, that’s my condemnation of Nochnoy Dozor.