Review: We Are the Night / Cert: 15 / Director: Dennis Gansel / Screenplay: Jan Berger and Denis Gansel / Starring: Karoline Herfurth, Nina Hoss, Jennifer Ulrich, Anna Fischer, Max Riemelt / Language: German with English subtitles / Release Date: October 15th
For Frankenstein it was 1965, but for the Wolfman we can place it with reasonable accuracy at 1981. If we include zombies then it wasn’t until 2002 but for the poor old mummy it was as long ago as 1932. Yes, these are the exact dates, as calculated by our expert team of horror film scientists, that these classic movie monsters ran out of ideas.
But what, we hear you ask, about vampires? Yes, vampires don’t give up so easily; they’re always looking for that new angle. The current bout of vampire movies is hardly recognisable from those early days of the animalistic Max Schrek or Bela Lugosi’s ‘man on his way to the opera’ routine. In fact, of late, vampire flicks even seem to have forgotten they’re supposed to be horror films at all.
Right from its jetliner heist opening, We Are the Night (2010) certainly comes across like a film which thinks it’s found a couple of new ideas. Louise (Hoss) is a vampire who lost her true love centuries ago but is still on the look-out for a replacement. That’s a new idea? Surely they can do better than that? Oh well, over the years she’s recruited Charlotte (Ulrich) and Nora (Fischer) as potential soul mates but neither appears to be the one she was looking for. You see, there are only female vampires. Male vampires are extinct; either killed by humans or finally finished off by the female vamps because they were ‘too loud, too greedy and too stupid’. Ah, now that’s a vaguely new spin; genius, really. Keeps the misandrists happy as well as any blokes who bought this ‘German, lesbian vampire movie’ for entirely the wrong reasons; Bill Nighy and Michael Sheen won’t be making any unwelcome appearances to ruin their fun (although they’ll still be in for a disappointment if that’s the sort of thing they were looking for). So Louise is still on the pull and ends up transforming street urchin Lena (Herfurth) who is on the run from Tom (Riemelt), the-most-useless-policeman-in-Europe.
This is where the film begins proper as Lena is shown the ropes of her new ‘life’. Once she’s over the whole killing-people-to-live thing it all appears to be a ball as Louise, Charlotte and Nora show her just how ‘loud, greedy and stupid’ lady vampires can be with their endless clubbing, shopping and, in the case of the particularly irritating Nora, deejaying. There’s even some sociopathic fast car action just in case the lads in the audience aren’t quite getting to grips with the fact that this is the bit of the movie where we see the ‘fun’ side of being a vampire. So nothing particularly new for the genre here either. But would you Adam and Eve it? There’s a downside to being a vampire. Who knew? It’ll come as no surprise that apart from that unpleasant business of killing people, there’s also the practicalities of sunbathing to be dealt with and all those difficult consequences that arise through the overrated gift of immortality. Charlotte is definitely not into this side of vampirism which is presumably why she sits around smoking a fag and looking miserable while her girlfriends behave like hedonistic airheads. In fact, this is done rather well with the former silent movie star watching her old films in which, of course, she looks exactly the same. In fact, there’s actually rather more to Charlotte’s downer on immortality which, while not particularly original, is at least handled in a genuinely touching way.
This is really where the strength of We Are the Night really lies. While it hasn’t really got any new ideas to speak of, it’s actually done so well that it comes across as being far fresher than it really is. The action scenes are very Bourne and even the cinematography is pretty good. There’s even some reasonable humour as we find that 21st century German security guards are about as gullible as German sentries in old British war movies. At least, we're assuming that was humour. We think it may have had a plot but to be honest it was so lightweight we're not sure we can recall it. But all in all it’s actually just quite enjoyable; nothing too clever, just something that seems to be aimed at those who have grown out of Twilight. While We Are the Night shows there might still be life in the vampire genre yet, it does rather look like our scientists might be able to fix a date when the vampire movie reached the same state as its colleagues. We're predicting they’ll calculate that it was sometime in 2009 but this reviewer has a hunch it might be even longer ago than that.
Extras: ‘Making of’ documentary, deleted scenes and two alternate endings.