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'We Are the Night' Movie Review

About.com Rating 4 Star Rating

By

'We Are the Night' movie poster.
© IFC
Vampires in popular culture are as hot as they've ever been, with a new vamp movie or novel or TV show debuting seemingly every month, so it's easy to overlook a limited-release German film like We Are the Night, but doing so would mean overlooking a feast for the senses and a frontrunner for the best vampire movie of the year.

The Plot

Lena (Karoline Herfurth) is an 18-year-old petty thief with no direction in life until she visits an underground dance club one night and is spotted by sultry club owner Louise (Nina Hoss). Louise is a vampire who's been searching for the reincarnation of her true love for over a hundred years, and she sees something special inside Lena -- something confirmed when Louise sneaks a bite from her neck and is literally knocked off her feet.

Lena manages to escape the club, but when she begins to transform -- sensitivity to the sun, a craving for blood, the usual routine -- she returns to figure out what the heck is going on. Louise explains the obvious -- she's a vampire -- and invites Lena to join her band of female vamps, including bubbly raver Nora (Anna Fischer) and moody '20s flapper Charlotte (Jennifer Ulrich).

As pained as she is about the changes going on inside her, Lena readily accepts the offer to live a hedonistic lifestyle of parties, shopping and excessive luxury (presumably attained through some sort of vampiric shenanigans), but she soon begins to wonder if the dark side of the life is worth all the benefits. And if it's not, what can she do about it?

The End Result

Karoline Herfurth in 'We Are the Night'.

Karoline Herfurth in 'We Are the Night'.

© IFC Midnight
Although it's receiving the sort of limited theatrical release often reserved for small arthouse films, We Are the Night plays more like a high-octane blockbuster. It's flashy, sexy and glamorous with action sequences that put many more mainstream movies to shame. With his cinematic flair and eye for detail, I wouldn't be surprised to see director Dennis Gansel get at least one shot to helm a Hollywood blockbuster at some point.

The picturesque cinematography, stylish set design and inventive special effects only enhance the film's slick look, but it shouldn't be dismissed as a pretty, hollow shell. While the script adds little original to vampire lore, it takes the time to define the characters and extract genuine emotion from their plight -- a rarity for genre flicks. Plus, there's a strain of female empowerment running through the story beyond simply having a woman being the last person standing...in a tight-fitting, sweaty, cleavage-bearing tank top.

Like The Lost Boys for the Cyber Generation, We Are the Night immerses us right off the bat with a seductive soundtrack and hip style. It's so enjoyable, in fact, that the only real complaint I can come up with is that I wanted more. I wanted to see more of these characters' lifestyle, hear more about their back stories, witness more of their adventures. Perhaps due to budgetary constraints, some of the action in the movie is downplayed or pushed off screen so that we feel a bit cheated -- not because We Are the Night threatens to become dull without it, but rather because the action that is on screen is so well done, we want more of the same. Like True Blood, it manages the tricky task of remaining loyal to its genre core while conveying an intoxicating accessibility to non-horror fans. Just ask my wife, who, in what I take to be a high compliment, asked if there's going to be an American remake

The Skinny

  • Acting: B (Likeable, genuine and believable despite the larger-than-life subject matter.)
  • Direction: A (Hypnotic, adrenaline-packed, dramatic.)
  • Script: B- (Nothing groundbreaking, but captures strong character depth.)
  • Gore/Effects: B (High production value allows for some impressive effects; not a ton of gore.)
  • Overall: B (Sexy, exciting and cool, it will leave you wanting more of this underground world.)

We Are the Night is directed by Dennis Gansel and is not rated by the MPAA. Release date: May 20, 2011 (May 25 on demand).

Disclosure: The distributor provided free access to this movie for review purposes. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

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