Way back in 2010, which seems like forever ago, I blogged about a humble indie vampire film called Midnight Son . At the time it had just wrapped production and was preparing to debut at a festival in L.A. The film’s producers were reaching out to any potential fans to help spread the word about the film and using Eventful to encourage people to “demand” the film be screened in their area.
The film, which promised to be “a gritty, realistic new look at the vampire genre” was hovering at the top of my watchlist since I first heard about it, but to be honest it kind of fell off my radar after a while, since the only way I could possibly see it would have been to, you know, actually go outside and travel to a film festival.
Well, just yesterday and completely out of the blue came the news that Midnight Son is now available on DVD , video on demand, and as a digital download! I didn’t hesitate.
Here’s my review:
A vampire film with “A Terrifying Love Story” as its tagline, starring two young, attractive leads that look vaguely like THAT ONE VAMPIRE COUPLE, and the fact that Stephenie Meyer also has a (unreleased) book called Midnight Sun , it’s hard not to think that Midnight Son sounds a little too much like Twilight . Well, don’t—the similarities end there. However, I can’t help but think the marketing team may have played up this angle of the film in the hopes of attracting some of the Twi-hards who are thirsting for more vampire romance. Don’t let that put you off, though; this is a brilliant little film that doesn’t deserve to be compared to that nonsense.
Midnight Son is first and foremost a horror film, but not so much the scary kind. It’s an intimate portrait of a young man, Jacob Gray, who slowly comes to realize he’s a vampire. It aims to be a realistic portrayal of vampires (read: no sparkles) and treats vampirism as a debilitating disease, not the glamorous, near superhuman lifestyle we usually see from Hollywood.
Jacob is only 24 years old, but works nights and lives a life of isolation due to what he believes to be a rare skin condition that prevents him from being exposed to sunlight. He begins to have uncontrollable episodes where he feels extreme pain in his stomach and he’s constantly hungry but never satisfied no matter how much food he eats. He then develops a taste for raw meats and discarded blood from the local butcher’s shop, but even that isn’t enough to sustain him. It isn’t long before Jacob begins to have strange fantasies about killing the people around him, which makes him feel confused and terrified.
The crux of the film is Jacob’s struggle to understand what’s happening to him and how to control it. Jacob is a kind-hearted man and doesn’t want to hurt anyone. When he meets and begins to fall in love with Mary, a local bartender, he’s worried she’ll discover his terrible secrets. The story grows darker from there, as Jacob’s life begins to spiral out of control and he resorts to ever more extreme measures to satisfy his craving for human blood without actually killing anyone—for example, trying to break into a hospital’s hazardous waste disposal bin—all the while trying to maintain a sense of normalcy for Mary’s sake. The romance between Jacob and Mary isn’t like Twilight’s “love at first bite” bullshit. The film takes its time developing both of these characters and revealing their fears and vulnerabilities. When they finally do hook up, the passion is believable.
Eventually Jacob’s secret starts to unravel and he gets mixed up with a couple of thugs who try to take advantage of his desperation. This is where the film gets really interesting and develops a bit of a Let the Right One In vibe in terms of the grisly methods these guys employ to go about procuring fresh blood, and the growing sense of concern and protectiveness Mary feels toward Jacob. Jacob’s anxiety comes to a head and ultimately causes an unfortunate accident that leads to a series of tragic events that culminate in an American Psycho –like scene where Jacob confesses to everything but the police don’t take him seriously. I’ll stop right there, at the risk of spoiling anything.
Midnight Son is intriguing and engaging from start to finish, thanks in no small part to Zak Kilberg’s mesmerizing performance, who absolutely carries this film as Jacob. Maya Parish was also extraordinary as Mary, and the chemistry between the two leads is intense and builds to a gratifying conclusion as their twisted drama unfolds. Visually, Midnight Son isn’t exactly what you’d call stunning, but that’s to be expected of a low-budget film. However, its shot in a close, intimate sort of way that makes the film feel all the more authentic.
There are hundreds of low-budget films about vampires, but not many of them offer a narrative as realistic as the one you’ll find here. I was really impressed with how much this film does with so little, proving that you don’t need a huge budget to make a good movie.
8 out of 10 stars.