November 6, 2015

Blu-ray Review: Children of the Night

Children of the Night is an Argentinian horror film that tells a tale of vampires and is described on the case as Let the Right One In meets Twilight. Now, that is not entirely accurate. Well, not really accurate at all, so don’t let that description scare you off. I guess you could see some similarities between them. In any case, should you see this movie? the short answer is yes. It is interesting, well made, and seems to be pretty fresh considering the vampiric subject matter. It is not the bloodiest vampire film I have seen, but it also doesn’t pull any punches. This movie is not about romanticizing the blood suckers, but it does seek to provide a plausible reality.

The film was written and directed by Ivan Noel. It is his fourth film since his 2008 debut, In Your Absence, plus he already has another movie in the can since Children of the Night released in 2014. You can say one thing, he is prolific, and if his other films are along the lines of this, he is definitely a filmmaker to keep an eye on. He works with small budgets, this one reportedly cost about $50,000. I was interested to learn that the entire film was shot on a DSLR (a Canon 5D, unsure which variety, but I suspect a Mark III). It has its limitations, but is an inventive way to get around budget restrictions, even if the look cannot compete with a film shot on a RED camera.

As for the movie, which was originally titled Limbo (a name I actually prefer), begins with a news reporter receiving an email inviting her to an orphanage to write an article about the children there. You see, the children are said to suffer from a blood disorder that makes them photosensitive, so they never go out in the sunlight. Recently, some of them have been dying and they would like an article written about them and their plight. Sure, it seems a little odd, but our intrepid reporter, Alicia (Sabrina Ramos), goes out to meet with the children’s caretaker, Erda (Ana Maria Giunta).

It is an interesting little film. There is initial uncertainty of what is really going on in the orphanage, also called Limbo. Alicia is confused by what she finds, only fed bits and pieces of of the truth, but when it comes, it brings with it a whole host of new questions. Then things begin to click into place, however it does not make things any easier, after all, these are child vampires we are talking about.

Children of the Night is certainly worth spending some time with. I like the take on child vampires hiding out, essentially, in an orphanage with their very own Renfield in the guise of an aging nurse who cares for them and assists in ceremonies born out of the Catholic faith. Then there are the Dracula and Bram Stoker bits, and one jab at the found footage style of films. Honestly, I was thinking it was going in a different direction than it did, so that is a good thing.

It is not a great film and it seems to sag through the middle. There were times when plot elements moved forward and I felt like I knew where it was headed, but there was still well over half an hour left, meaning I was likely wrong. Again, misdirection is not bad, but lagging is. So, while I have no problem recommending it, recognize it is far from perfect.

The transfer is adequate. This is no Hollywood blockbuster and does not have that sheen. At times it has the look of a soap opera and while I do not find it to be an attractive look, it still does the job and you quickly forget it as you focus on the story. The audio is also adequate, it does not have so much in the way of action and explosions, so it is a fairly simple track that focuses on delivering dialogue and does it well.

On the special features side, there is a commentary (in English) by writer/director Ivan Noel and twenty-two minute featurette on the making of the film. There is plenty of good information here covering pretty much all aspects of the film.

Overall, this is a decent movie that is worth spending time with. It creates an intriguing and worthwhile look at young looking vampires.


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