Near Dark - Blu-ray Review

'Adrian Pasdar has all the tact and physical acting skill of a one-legged lemming, hopping towards certain doom'

I'll openly admit that if it wasn't for the publicity surrounding The Hurt Locker, I probably wouldn't have gone and seen Near Dark, the film that really announced the arrival of director Kathryn Bigelow, prior to the oft-referenced Point Break. Having said that, relatively camp yet interestingly threatening vampire films from around the 70s-80s period do interest me and what I was really hoping for with Near Dark was a kind of slow-burn Salem's Lot-alike film, crossed with the hyperistic 'real' action of Bigelow's 2010 Oscar-winner.

Which, I'm happy to report, is kind of exactly what you get here. Bigelow builds not necessarily tension but certainly drama, slowly and carefully, crafting moments around some early beautiful visuals which are purposefully placed within the 'near dark' setting, giving the film its successful ethereal look, if not a driving sense of purpose.

Place a check then, next to the 'slow-burn Salem's Lot-alike' requirement. Similarly, a nice even 'tick' can be applied to anyone looking for something like the action Bigelow puts on screen in The Hurt Locker. Again, there is a patient and caring build-up to much of it and the director is careful not to over-expose us to anything that might fulfill our need so much we don't care about the next bit to come along. Bill Paxton, here on absolutely manic best-form and clearly enjoying himself tremendously, is therefore used sparingly rather than wantonly and Near Dark is all the better for it, especially in the moments when the vampires have to go off individually to satisfy their thirst.

Where I did have problems with Near Dark, the blame can mainly be rested at the feet of leads Adrian Pasdar and Jenny Wright who mumble and muddle their way through the film like stand-ups on amateur night. Wright's is admittedly a difficult task but on occasions it really feels like she isn't trying and the feeling I most associated with her was the general level of disconnectedness anyone over fifteen feels towards Kristen Stewart's Bella in the Twilight series. Pasdar has a much easier job (the lonesome, tough guy, pretty face cowboy) but again hardly manages to raise a flutter from an audience that really needs to be entranced by him. An early scene where he is required to stumble over a ploughed field whilst burning up has all the tact and physical acting skill of a one-legged lemming, hopping towards certain doom.

Apart from these two, I found myself feeling the same level of general antipathy towards the film as a whole as I found myself feeling during The Hurt Locker. Individual scenes of something approaching brilliance (such as the bar-room massacre) are great but dramatically I found Near Dark as similarly hard to engage with as Bigelow's most recent opus, a problem I didn't have with the much more defined and linear Point Break. Whilst I'm sure others will, and have, found themselves more connected with the two aforementioned Bigelow films than I, for me there is a battle in places here between her direction and the story which prevents a great deal of narrative harmony or even, satisfaction.

Look further...

'half of the fun of watching it, is getting to see chunks of the American countryside that no one else bothers to film. At times it plays almost more like a Western then a horror film' - Things That Don't Suck


  1. One of the best horror films, from the 80's.

  2. I just couldn't warm to it entirely. As I say, some great scenes but that doesn't inherently make the entire thing interesting. I know there's a lot of love out there for it though.