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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 35.71%
Average: 7.14%
Pretty Bad: 2.38%
Total Crap: 0%

2 reviews, 30 user ratings

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Near Dark
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by dionwr

"Best vampire movie of the last 25 years"
5 stars

"Near Dark" is the best vampire movie anyone has made in the last 25 years. By the time I saw it, I was quite frankly sick to death of the oh-so-tragically-hip-and-fashionably-undead, and I only saw the film under duress. I was surprised to find myself first believing in these vampires, and then caring about them.

Kathryn Bigelow, who co-wrote and directed, found a way to sneak up on old material, playing it not as a monster movie, but as a tragic love story. The hero, Caleb, played by Adrian Pasdar, hooks up with the vampires because of his attraction to Mae, played by Jenny Wright, who is clearly attracted to him.

Mae and Caleb's first date is a triumph of good writing, directing and acting. Everyone watching knows it's about vampires, so you're sure Mae is one. You wait for Caleb to get attacked, but instead end up focusing on Mae as she decides not to kill him, but to change him.

After that, he's stuck, of course--the vampires can't let him leave alive, and to stay he has to turn into a ruthless predator, too.

The viewer learns of vampires and their ways through the viewpoint of Caleb as he becomes a member of the group. And the vampires themselves are re-imagined, in ways that make them more real, and thus more believable, than they have been.

Despite their overwhelming strength and speed, they're living a marginal existence in the modern world, totally helpless in the sunlight of the day and against the plodding police forces that pursue them not as vampires, but as common criminals. They can never stop and be safe anywhere, for their life is too abnormal to escape notice. You end up thinking that if there really were vampires, they'd be like this.

The two leads are both quite wonderful. Adrian Pasdar manages to play a thoroughly nice young man, in way over his head, without turning him into an annoying wimp. And Jenny Wright was the perfect combination of lost youth and vulnerability to make Mae sympathetic, despite the life of random killing she is forced to lead to survive.

The other characters are also well-drawn and memorable, with the standouts being Lance Henriksen as the tough patriarch of the vampire clan, and Bill Paxton as a particularly unapologetic young vampire who has learned to enjoy killing.

There are other dimensions to the film, as well, for example a contrast of the meaning of family. The vampires are like a nuclear family gone feral, with all their impulses reinforcing generally anti-social behavior--random murder and robbery to survive. Contrasted with this is Caleb's father and sister, who go searching for Caleb when the police consider it hopeless, and won't give up on him.

Some viewers have criticized the ending of the film as arbitrary, but I felt it was fully earned. The bad vampires bring themselves to bad ends, and the good ones find a way out.

There've been other good vampire movies over the last few years--"Interview With the Vampire" is better produced, "Lost Boys" had the great advertising budget this one should have had, and "Blade" is more kick-ass fun--

--but "Near Dark" is the one whose characters I remember, and cared about.

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 02/06/02 11:15:08
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Brisbane Film Festival. For more in the 2005 Brisbane Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

1/04/13 action movie fan good vampire modern western character development so so but good action and gore 4 stars
9/25/10 Geoff One of the best vampire movies ever! 4 stars
12/23/09 brian So where did "Twilight" come from? Hmmm... 4 stars
10/31/09 alfred much better than Lodt Boys, and other vamp films 5 stars
5/29/07 damalc damn-near classic 4 stars
8/20/05 ES Lance Henriksen he may be a B actor, but at least he's always great 4 stars
10/17/04 marcelo I see this movie in the valdivia city from chile ,when still alive the cervante cine 5 stars
7/27/04 Shawn Lanham One of the best vampire movies ever released! 5 stars
7/23/04 Samuel Killing you would be easy, they'd rather terrify you...forever. 5 stars
5/14/04 Darryl Very unique. One of the overall best of the genre. 5 stars
3/26/04 Beep1955beep Best "B" vampire movie EVER!!! 5 stars
3/25/04 john lots of fun! great premise and Bigelow knowqs how to direct action 5 stars
2/18/04 WhiteHorse Paxton looked like he was having so much fun 5 stars
3/05/03 K. B Good vampire flick. The mackup effects were top notch. 4 stars
3/04/03 JesseL Vampire cult classic. Jenny Wright rocks. 5 stars
3/03/03 y2mckay Mostly noteworthy for reuniting the cast of "Aliens". An average vampire/action flick 3 stars
2/24/03 severn '' i hate it when they ain't been shaved.'' 5 stars
2/18/03 thomas york the best horror/adventure movie, i 5 stars
1/15/03 babs this movie warped me irrevocably 5 stars
1/09/03 bob bar scene is unforgettable 5 stars
12/31/02 Jack Sommersby Overpraised but fetching. Too many contivances; stylishly rendered, though. 3 stars
12/06/02 Kyle Don't usually say things like this, but....THIS MOVIE TOTALLY KICKS ASS! 5 stars
10/05/02 The Bomb 69 wanted to like it more, too many plotholes, some of it made no sense 3 stars
8/02/02 Miriam Best vampire flm I've ever seen. Very intense, dark, & humorous. Bill Paxton rocked! 5 stars
4/26/02 Charles Tatum Good, not great 4 stars
2/07/02 Andrew Carden Chilling Vampire Teen Movie. 5 stars
12/09/01 Jim Offbeat and intense vampire movie featuring half the cast of "Aliens" 5 stars
12/09/01 Keith A good vampire film. Lance H. is very good, as always. 4 stars
11/04/01 MarkB A better vampire flick 4 stars
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  02-Oct-1987 (R)
  DVD: 10-Sep-2002



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