A centuries old vampire falls in love with a scruffy pickpocket & transforms her into a creature of the night.
Ok, here we are. “Where are we” you ask? Well acolytes, we are in the “Twilight Zone”. I don’t mean the classic Rod Serling series of the 60’s though, I wish it were that easy. No, I mean the pithy, sugary sweet & unfathomably (to me) popular series of “Twilight” films, all stemming from the uber successful novels written by Stephanie Meyer. “We Are The Night” initially impressed me with during it’s intriguing first 30 minutes. But then I realized what it was aping & most of my enthusiasm went out the window. But I’m getting ahead of myself…
The film tells the story of a young thief named Lena, a scruffy, filthy looking girl played by Karoline Herfurth. In the opening moments of the film she manages to pickpocket the wallet of a pimp who is being watched by undercover cops. As she makes her move & gets the wallet, the cops spring into action as well, apprehending the pimp & then chasing after her. Of course, Lena is very streetwise & manages to escape by tossing off some of her garments as she runs away. Eventually she feels that she has given the cop chasing her the slip & she stops to catch her breath sitting on the edge of a bridge. The cop chasing her, Tom(Max Riemelt) gets to that same spot & sees Lena sitting there but apparently not recognizing her. He asks to sit alongside her to catch his breath & ask if she has seen someone running away. She says no of course but Tom already knows that she is who he was chasing & after some small talk he attempts to arrest her but she leaps off of the bridge onto a boat passing underneath. All Tom can do is laugh to himself as he sees Lena mosey on down whatever river the boat is on.
The next night, the still scruffy looking Lena stumbles upon a nightclub. It’s your standard pulsing music, flashing lights sort of place. The only difference being that it is owned by a stunning blonde by the name of Louise. Louise hangs with the same 2 girls every night: Nora(Anna Fischer) & Charlotte(Jennifer Ulrich). Nora is a young wild child type who’s always looking to have a good time. Charlotte is far more reserved, she has an air of refinement about her. All three of them are beautiful women who just happen to be vampires as well. They pick their prey from the nightclub patrons who are blissfully & unknowingly being sized up for dinner on a nightly basis. Louise catches sight of Lena & follows her into a bathroom. Apparently Lena has something that Louise digs about her. After some brittle back & forth between the two, Louise makes her move. But Lena fights back as Louise tries to give her neck a nip & some sort of energy throws Louise back against the wall….Smiling at the prospect she’s just discovered. But Lena runs away before Louise can try again.
Of course there was enough of a bite taken out of Lena that when she awakens the next morning the sun coming through the window really hurts her eyes & as she goes to pull the shades closed she realizes that her skin is burning as well. She closes the shades & goes back to bed, covering herself up in the sheets. That evening when she wakes up. She feels stronger, healthier as well. But she has a raging hunger in her belly. She tries to eat some food from the refrigerator but it only makes her sick. She finds relief in drinking the blood from a package of meat. She then returns to the club to confront Louise & her posse to find out what has happened to her. They explain that she is now one of them. A creature of the night….a vampire. Initially she is defiant & doesn’t believe them but a glass of blood & the immediate cessation of her hunger that it brings with it convinces her. That & the fact that she has no reflection either. They take her back to their lavish apartment where she is asked to bathe. Lena, who has extremely short hair & is covered in dirt & scratches lowers herself into the water & (in a nice bit of CGI magic) literally transforms into a beautiful long haired woman with nary a smudge or scratch on her.
It’s at this point in the film that we get the montage scenes of Lena & her new blood sisters shopping for clothes for Lena, giving Lena a new car (which she promptly scratches with the key..on purpose), etc..etc. Lena is introduced to her new life as a vampire & Louise also has designs on her as well. Meanwhile, Tom is still looking for Lena. Why…I couldn’t tell you. There can be no way that he was attracted to the dirty, burnt out pickpocket he met in the beginning of the film. and that’s when I understood where this film was going. Tom is in love with Lena, so is Louise…who does she choose? Much like Bella in the “Twilight” series having to decide between a vampire stud or a Werewolf stud. And that’s what is wrong with the film, it starts out as a cross of ‘The Hunger” & “Daughters Of Darkness” which felt pretty good to me in the beginning. But it slowly & inexorably devolves into a maudlin love story between three disparate types of people: A vampire, a tomboy pickpocket & a handsome police officer.
Firstly, I could not believe that Tom falls for Lena in the state he first met her in, She’s just plain fugly. Secondly, I couldn’t believe that Louise would want to go for her either. Although it is possible she went after her initially thinking someone who looked like her wouldn’t be missed & after tasting her blood felt the same thing that Tom did…whatever that was. I thought the other two vamps had far more interesting back stories & sadly they aren’t fleshed out very much. Especially Charlotte’s story, she laments losing the life that she had. One with a husband & child that she was perfectly happy with. I also didn’t buy Lena’s transformation scene. It’s the same actress but her appearance so completely that she looks nothing & I mean nothing like she did earlier. It was too complete a change for me although she was really easy on the eyes afterwards. Nora, as opposed to Charlotte, loves the nightlife & being a vampire. She is always looking for a good time no matter what.
Of course, mistakes are made by the quartet & the police track them back to their home where Nora is killed. The others have no choice but to leave her to the sun. Now that Nora is gone, Charlotte begins to lament the fact that she really never asked for the life she’s living & Louise begins to lose it as well. all the while, Tom is getting closer to find Lena. It all ends up in a showdown between Lena & Louise (Charlotte does herself in) but who wins?
I sure didn’t. “We Are The Night” gets a lot of details right. It’s beautifully & stylishly shot, all of the performances (especially Hoss as Louise) are spot on & the atmosphere practically drips off of the screen. But it’s what it gets wrong that kills it, namely the very derivative screenplay. There is very little surprise to it. Thirty minutes into the movie I figured out how it would all end, how? I’ve seen it before & you have too if you’ve seen “The Hunger” & “Daughters Of Darkness” as I mentioned earlier. It tries too hard to fix something that wasn’t broken to start with & it doesn’t do enough to update it either. And as to the ending…it’s oh so “Twilight-ish”. It just made me mad. And that’s too bad because I was digging on it for a little while.
So if you want to see a stylishly shot vampire film with interesting characters that you genuinely care about, see “The Hunger”. If you want to see a stylishly shot film with some lesbian vampire sex in it, see “The Hunger” or “Daughters Of Darkness”. If you want to see a stylishly shot vampire film with some good performances but no originality to it whatsoever…see director/screenwriter Dennis Gansel’s “We Are The Night”. Another example of all style & little to no substance whatsoever. The Black Saint blesses it with 1 1/2 shrouds for it’s look & some good performances, but a “been there, done that” script kills it just as it begins to pick up some steam. Sad, I thought I was watching a winner for awhile.