Thursday, May 19, 2016

In short: Nattens engel (1998)

aka Angel of the Night

Rebecca (Maria Karlsen) has inherited the impressive mansion of her grandmother, including the dead vampire stashed away in the cellar. Where else would you put him? While poking around with her stupid boyfriend Mads (Tomas Villum Jensen) and her stupid sexually overactive best friend Charlotte (Mette Louise Holland), Rebecca relates the tale of the vampire – a former priest going by the embarrassing moniker of Rico Mortiz (mostly Erik Holmey) – and the various idiots encountering him in beautiful Copenhagen.

All this flashbacking does of course culminate in the expected reawakening of the vampire, his final death, and a scene where the part of him that was a priest is flown to heaven by an actual angel.

I don’t think I’m going out on a limb when I say Nattens engel’s director Shaky González rather liked Roberto Rodriguez’ From Dusk Till Dawn, and who could blame him? I certainly won’t. I do blame him for his film’s sad attempt at trying to imitate the surface elements of Rodriguez’ style without showing much feeling for the way they fit together in Rodriguez good (there’s no middle ground with Rodriguez – his films tend to be very good or very bad) films. It’s the kind of cargo cult filmmaking that takes all the signifiers of cool but then doesn’t use them in cool ways, and certainly doesn’t realize they are only cool when used properly. See also my entirely imaginary book, “The Zen of Coolness”.

It doesn’t help much that the script González is working from just isn’t good at all. The episodic nature of the narrative must be a godsend when shooting a low budget affair but the way it is applied here mostly makes the film feel unfocused and disjointed, robbing it of any way to build characters that are actually cool – or at least so memorable you’ll remember anything about them. The vampire lore mostly seems confused and incoherent, while the jokes are pretty darn unfunny.

The most memorable thing about the whole affair is the opportunity it provides for the star spotters among the audience. If you watch out, you’ll see Mads Mikkelsen, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Thomas Bo Larsen and Ulrich Thomsen in small to tiny roles. Bully for them.

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