More noise than signal

Near Dark

Republished from the show notes of my other site, Fuds on Film.

Adrian Pasdar’s Caleb Colton picks up an unfortunate condition from a young woman, Jenny Wright’s Mae, that he meets at the local dive bar of whatever small Midwestern town he’s in. No, not crabs, but vampirism. The two do seem to have struck a chord as they talk through the night, but Mae mysteriously bolts off just before sun-up, for largely not-going-on-fire reasons, as Caleb discovers come the morning.

He’s saved from a fate exactly like death by Mae’s “family” in their blacked out RV, headed by Lance Henriksen’s Jesse Hooker, who reluctantly, at Mae’s insistence, overrules Bill Paxton’s annoying, supposed-to-be-intimidating nutter Severen, who’d rather see the newest member of the family cast out. Rounding out the family are Jenette Goldstein’s Diamondback, Jesse’s girl (I wish that I had Jesse’s girl… apologies to Rick Springfield), and child vampire Homer (Joshua John Miller), who basically gets the story arc of Let the Right One In condensed into three lines of dialogue.

While Caleb is trying to come to terms with his new life, new love, and new hunger for blood, and his understandable reluctance to give in to the latter, the family tear across the Midwest, killing, feasting and arsoning, in a complete mockery of the masquerade most vampire films have about blending in to avoid detection and all that. So, it shouldn’t be all that hard for Caleb’s dad, Tim Thomerson’s Loy, and younger sister to follow the trail. And when these meet, Caleb will have to choose between his two families.

I thought I’d seen Near Dark before, but I think I’m confusing it with the slightly similarly themed Lost Boys, which, although I can barely remember it, I’m fairly comfortable in saying is a much more enjoyable film, because Near Dark wasn’t very interesting to me at all. I don’t really have all that much to complain about in terms of the filmmaking, and the plot is, on a theoretical level, solid enough to carry it, but I just could not bring myself to care about any of these characters.

I thought Bill Paxton would be good for a laugh, and he very much isn’t, and while Lance Henriksen acquits himself better he’s still not doing very much at all. Unfortunately this film is based almost entirely around the white hot blistering chemistry that there isn’t between Pasdar and Wright, and without that this is basically Twilight with a bit of pyrotechnics in the final reel.

I don’t hate it, but I sure as hell don’t care about it. Minor plaudits for an interesting, if ultimately not all that fitting, Tangerine Dream soundtrack, but that’s a recommendation for Spotify, not Netflix.