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‘The Night Watchmen’ (Fantasia Film Festival review)

Produced by Ken Arnold, Dan Deluca,
Jeffrey Allard, Demetrea Triantafillides
Written by Dan DeLuca, Jamie Nash
Directed by Mitchell Altieri
Starring Ken Arnold, Dan DeLuca, Dan Franko,
Kevin Jiggetts, Kara Luiz, Rain Pryor, James Remar,
Matt Servitto, Tiffany Shepis, Max Gray Wilbur
Fantasia Film Festival selection

 

“Lets kill some dead people!”

The Night Watchmen bills itself as a “Vampire Comedy” and it gets that pretty dead on.

This is a film that gets right to the point and yet does not feel rushed. The movie wastes no time… less than 15 minutes in and all the characters are introduced and the plot is fully in gear. For a movie that is only 80 minutes,  The Night Watchmen is paced pretty well only, really suffering in the last five minutes where a final gag would really have helped.

Instead, they play it straight.

Not sure why as the rest of the movie is constant subversion of the tropes of vampire films, buddy films and siege movies. It is also nice to see a comedy that knows it is R rated and plays to that. Copious amounts of nudity and gore are here to be found. In the era of the PG-13 film this was refreshing.

What are The Night Watchmen? Well, they are the night watchmen of a dying Baltimore weekly newspaper which happens to get a vampire clown rock star (yes I am serious) dropped off in their shipping department (the stoner delivery guys transposed the numbers on the address). After that it’s all vampires turning the humans and possibly making them into Zompires (that is something that comes up).

The only line of defense are the lazy and useless night watchmen including Ken (Ken Arnold) a former “marine” who is about as capable as a blind woodsman with a gun, Luca (Dan DeLuca) the maybe former hitman perhaps cannibal quiet guy, Jiggetts (Kevin Jiggetts) the worst black dude ever, Karen (Kara Luiz) the lesbian editor who is smarter and better with a weapon than any of the men and new hire Rajeeve (not his real name) who is starting his first night after getting kicked out of a goth metal band (Max Gray Wilbur).

They must survive the night until the sun can vanquish the evil. It does not go well for them and that is where the humor comes from. This movie is way funnier than it deserves to be. This is a movie less about plot and more about characters and funny distractions of which there are plenty. I was honestly shocked at how much I laughed at the gags here. Sure some were dopey and did not work but far more did than didn’t. That is the strange part here as the movie is written by and stars people who are most well known for roles in things such as The Wire, Law & Order and the like. Sure there are comedies on their resumes but when I see an actor that was a main character from The Wire on the writing credits “comedy” is not what comes to mind. But as I said this works.

Directed by Mitchell Altieri and co-starring James Remar (yes JAMES FREAKING REMAR). Remar is a sleazy sex addicted nerd so yeah, I bet you never saw that before. The direction is obviously low budget with CG blood in many scenes and even CG gunfire but in a strange way that plays into the goofball tone of the movie. This is not a serious film that wants to be high art… in fact I think it would rather be HIGH art (hehe). Yeah, a bag of weed plays a key role in the plot. Apparently vampires can still get high.

The Night Watchmen does not suck. The film sticks it’s neck out to be funny and even with the cross to bear of it being yet another vampire comedy it has staked out it’s place. I wager if they had tapped a different vein this may not have worked.

That said it’s not a perfect film. Some bad CGI does pull you out of the film and that ending needed a gag or two but overall I really enjoyed the movie.

 

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