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Month of Horror 2015: World Edition – Denmark: Nightwatch (Nattevagten)

Editor’s Note: These posts originally appeared starting here on the AV Club *stares off wistfully*. They are being reposted for completionist sake as this annual series continued onto the AVCAD and now here. Also, forgive the writing for I was younger and dumber and these were written to appear in comments so don’t include pictures and are far shorter and less thorough than the series is now. They have been preserved as they were.

Month of Horror: World Edition
10/19/2015 – Denmark: Nightwatch (Nattevagten) (1994)
Directed by Ole Bornedal

Denmark is the second, though not final, Scandinavian country represented here and like Sweden has a long and considerable cinematic history. Even beyond the great and diverse works of Carl Theodor Dreyer (director of the best silent film I’ve ever seen The Passion of Joan of Arc as well as VampyrDay of Wrath, and Ordet) the nation has turned out such directors as Lars von Trier, Susanne Bier, Nicolas Winding Refn and films such as The HuntBabette’s Feast, and A Highjacking. Horror wise they haven’t been as prominent though with the aforementioned Vampyr being made in German(y) though they have also turned out von Trier’s Antichrist (which being a wuss I very decidedly continue passing on), and two films by today’s director Ole Bornedal, the mediocre The Substitute and Nightwatch. Borendal also directed the remake of Nightwatch which I considered watching until I remembered Silent House(and also didn’t have the time for it but that’s not important right now).

Nightwatch stars a young Nikolaj Coster-Waldau in his first role and while a bit awkward at times he is able to effectively create a character who feels just a bit off. There is also something strange about his voice that I don’t know if it owing to his young age or his speaking in his native language that generated a bit of discomfort in me not from being creepy, but just once again feeling off. The rest of the cast is fine if nothing to really write home about though oddly enough the film also stars the eventual stars of the original versions of both The Killing (Sofie Gråbøl) and The Bridge (Kim Bodnia) both in early roles.

The music is passable I guess owing in part to the ever decreasing standards this month has given me but it does well enough combined with the cinematography creating a mood which along with its basic construct is probably the film’s greatest strength. It’s not a hugely original movie but it is a well-done straightforward thriller which occasionally gets a bit brutal (if not overly so). The film is at times overly dark which occasionally made things tough to tell what is going on while viewing the movie on my computer screen which may not be fair to the movie but it was the one place I could view the Region 2 disc.

There is yet another twist but at least here it is of the “find the killer” variety and you know what, it was handled pretty damn well. There was no, SPOILERS it was a ghost or it was secretly the lead doing it because of a split personality, it was just simply the investigator is the murderer with everything seeming to check out and make sense. A good old fashioned mystery instill enough doubt in our lead’s sanity before actual investigating allows the film to pull back and let everything work itself out. It felt a bit odd to end the movie on a double wedding and a joke but you earned it movie especially since you had me on the edge of my seat through the scene waiting for it to be inexplicably revealed that one of the two lead males was working with the killer the whole time END OF SPOILERS. Overall, the film is an enjoyable little movie and a nice change of pace if not worth the effort to track it down (here is the inevitable moment someone points out a readily available version sitting there online that I didn’t see).

Up Next: David Cronenberg’s The Brood representing Canada (hooray this time Netflix for having your “very long wait” disappear when it needed to most). Also went ahead and scheduled a bunch of bonus titles because I hate myself. Also those last two bonus items on 10/31 are something I’d be willing to negotiate on.

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