SEIZE THE NIGHT: Vampire Short Lacks Bite
Modern creatives have taken many liberties with the subject of vampire/werewolf lore. Films such as Blade and the Underworld series’ brought slick, Hong Kong-style hyper-violence wrapped in a trench coat, whereas Twilight added teenage brooding and sickly bubble gum romance, which many purists would rather see vanish into a sparkly haze. Emma Darks’ latest short Seize The Night fits categorically into the first grouping. Shadow drenched, serious and leather clad, the film brings us back to an era of a genre whose edge may have dulled over time.
Director Emma Dark wore many hats for this production including editing, co-writing, producing and starring. In a Director’s Statement, Dark notes the films Dracula 2001 and Razor Blade Smile, as well as the aforementioned, as being inspirations for the short. That’s putting it mildly. From the leather-only wardrobe to the pulse-pounding techno score, Seize The Night isn’t shy about its pedigree.
The story revolves around Eva (Emma Dark), a vampire who escaped the clutches of a secret government facility who does bio-research on creatures of the night. Pursued by her former coven and government agents, Eva is forced to put her trust in the hands of former enemy Tobias (Carey Thring) and his pack of werewolves in order to bring down those who have crossed her.
Marching its way down a well-trodden path, the film draws heavily from predecessors. That’s not to say the sub-genre of modern vampire films aren’t tremendously entertaining, quite the opposite in fact. A proven audience draw, the concept of vamps doing battle can make for an excellent time at the movies. However, the inspirational source which Seize The Night pulls from may quickly be running dry. Staples of the genre such as skintight leather— everything, high-tech future weapons and impossibly cool hard-assed heroes have become expected tropes. An unfortunate effect of over-saturation.
A Film Out of Time?
The intent for this short, it seems, was to be a throwback to the films from which it was inspired. A goal met on all fronts. However, when doing so, homage must accompany ingenuity in order to make a compelling result. Short films have the disadvantage of curtailed length, though conversely allowing for creative storytelling by limiting lulls and concentrating on poignant narrative moments.
In the case of Seize the Night, it feels as though the script is painting by the numbers, afraid of venturing outside the lines by adding its own spin on the genre. Tweaks to vampire/werewolf lore, gadgetry we haven’t seen before or even a wardrobe innovation could have helped this film immensely.
A “shot on video” short such as this would have flourished virally during the height of Kung Fu fang flicks. With a modest amount content being released online by up-and-comers at the time, Seize The Night might have been an inspiration for future filmmakers. But as we will most likely see with the present zombie craze, landscapes wither on exhausted soil.
That Little Something Extra
Suffice it to say, Seize The Night felt flat and derivative throughout. It wanders through a banal plot assuming the audience is knowledgeable of their surroundings while filling the gaps with overly-serious dialogue. Adding to the tonal issues, is the “video” look of the piece. Masked by the choice to go black and white, it does become quite apparent in some scenes. Understandably, considerations for budget were weighed on this opinion. To make anything show worthy is expensive, though adding a never-before-seen element would have given this a much needed boost.
There is a larger film here, which, with more a fleshed out script and bigger budget could become something special. Seize The Night is a noble effort from a passionate filmmaker, though it succumbs heavily to seen-before fan service in the end.
What monster genre (i.e. Vampires, Werewolves, Zombies) will be the next big craze in entertainment? Leave your predictions in the comments.
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Spent most of my life watching and discussing movies. Writing is a way to keeping the conversation going with the rest of the world.