Tonight I had the pleasure of watching Near Dark again. My favorite vampire film. Directed by Kathryn Bigelow, I think the movie stands up very well since its release in 1987.
I wanted to replenish my writing well with great source material such as this one. Like its midwest setting, beautifully shot by cinematographer Adam Greenberg, the film is spare, bleak and beautiful. Part western, part love story, part horror film, the movie is a well-crafted, simple tale depicted by a great cast.
The writing gets down to he essence of the vampire, paring away extraneous mythology. They’re monsters; vicious killers that you don’t want to hitch a ride with. They don’t attend high school and brood or live like kings in opulence. In fact, the lives of these vampires are hardscrabble as they search each night for fresh blood and a new place to sleep away daylight, ditching stolen cars and wearing the same sweat- and blood-soaked clothes all the while.
Two scenes stand out. One is where the reluctant vampire Caleb, played by Adrian Pasdar (from the too short-lived series Profit and over-lived series Heroes), is in the cab of a semi with Mae (Jenny Wright) the vampire who made him and the human truck driver. Here, as the garrulous driver goes on about his job, Caleb eyes him like dinner but doesn’t have the stomach to kill. Pasdar is great at expressing his character’s struggle to hold onto his humanity while Wright silently urges him give into his new nature.
The other scene is in the bar where Bill Paxton (Aliens, Apollo 13) has one of his best performances. Filled with tension, complexity, humor and sadism, the scene reveals to Caleb the world he has been bitten into. It’s make or break time for him — he must finally feed or be destroyed.
Have you seen it? What did you think?