Immortal. Insatiable. and in some catalogs, Inflatable.
I was going to start this review out with a little dissertation on how women are crazy even when they are undead… and then I thought better of it… Eastern European women are crazy even when they’re undead. Now that I’ve alienated half my audience… We Are the Night is not about the crazy undead of the female variety, although it might appear that way on the surface. In fact, much unlike its English dubbed trailer leads you to believe, We Are the Night is actually very much about despondency and loneliness… ok, it might also be about schmokin hot lesbian vampires too… and thank God, right?!?!? All that loneliness gets a little depressing unless you throw in a little Transylvanian girl-on-girl!!! Woot!!! Dat’s wat I’s sayin!!! Ahem… We Are the Night might be misinterpreted as a movie that panders to the club going, sexually experimental, feminist ravers that, for the most part, are the cardboard cut out vamps of a lot of b-movie fare as of late. If that is all you take away with you, then you have missed one of the better vampire films to come out. One that I feel falls in the same arena as Let The Right One In, Near Dark, and their deserving contemporaries.
Lena (Karoline Herfurth) lives a life dominated by running from the police, pickpocketing and navigating the German underground. Her life seems pointless, without substance, and more importantly without a sense of hope. Through her somewhat less than noble lifestyle Lena meets an overzealous adrenaline junkie cop, Tom (Max Riemelt) and three energetic, rebellious, glamorous and dangerous club goers: Louise, Charlotte and Nora.
Ringleader of the three enigmatic, Louise (Nina Hoss), takes an instant liking to Lena’s fiery spirt and inducts her into the supernatural world of the vampire. Tom continues to search for Lena whose free spirit has interested him as well and a very untraditional love triangle follows.
The story here is simple enough and the conflict is as tired as the premise of most vampire movies to date. Lena rejects her new vampire habits, condemns her peers for their bloodlust and seeks to pursue Tom’s affections. Again, I said simple and tired, right? C’mon… I can still have self awareness and like this movie… Don’t hate!!! It is director Dennis Gansel that takes the tale and gives it life that reaches beyond the story. Gansel’s vampires are struggling to hold on to anything that gives them humanity, and, in doing this, makes them somewhat more human than they’re breathing counterparts. They are tragic, they are hopeless, and their animosity allows them to stave their misgivings, losing themselves in indulgences, creating each moment with enough intensity to erase those before it. We get the feeling that this is cheap band-aid psychological reparations and each vampire in the original core three is slowly losing themselves to their own despair. Louise has created a war on men, both alive and undead, almost singlehandedly wiping out the male population of bloodsuckers. Charlotte is lost in her bygone days of the roaring twenties, never giving up the grief that she felt for her loved ones, while Nora is living the life of a spoiled teenager, looking for the affections of men that she is doomed to destroy. They are sisters in bondage and Lena starts a chain of events that leads each to greater examine their immortality. It is Louise that struggles to create a world where she can no longer cling to humanity, finding companionship so strong and eternal that no world, living or undead has to matter anymore. Lena represents her golden ticket and it ultimately, is her undoing.
German language with English subtitles, We Are the Night is heavy on atmosphere, not so much on dialogue and allows the actors to emote with more than just their words. Karoline Herfurth takes full advantage of this and allows it to flesh out a character that at times the script neglects to do. Max Riemelt feels the stiffest here, but slides easily into the love interest role and doesn’t distract from the real star here which is Torsten Breuer’s cinematography. Shot for shot, this is a gorgeous film. Breuer and Gansel manage to submerge their nocturnal shots in brilliant, saturated color while keeping our daytime in We Are the Night monochromatic and cold. The movie’s pace is just right for its content and the conclusion is a torrent of rollercoaster camera theatrics. We Are the Night might not satisfy the most critical of vampire enthusiasts, but it holds its own enough to warrant repeat viewings and a place side by side some of the sub-genre’s best offerings. Highly Recommended.