Directed by: Kathryn Bigelow
Premise: Caleb, a young cowboy (Adrian Pasdar) with a restless heart, enters into a vampire clan led by Jesse Hooker (Lance Henriksen), that roams the western countryside.
What Works: Near Dark is an excellent example of taking a genre and spinning it in new ways. The film takes the vampire genre and combines it with the western and a coming of age story. This is one of the first instances in cinema of the vampire as a clan or a family unit and it was a step away from the aristocratic portrayal of the vampire often associated with Dracula. This film is also one of the first instances in which the vampire is sympathetic and somewhat tragic. This is largely conveyed through the performances which are solid, especially Pasdar as the cowboy seduced into a life of damnation and Bill Paxton as a sociopathic vampire.
What Doesn’t: The ending is a little too neat and solves Caleb’s choices a little too easily. The film was released nearly twenty years ago and some of the special effects in the film look dated.
DVD extras: Commentary track, making-of documentary, deleted scenes with commentary, storyboards, still gallery, DVD-ROM features.
Bottom Line: Near Dark is a film that takes its genre in new directions and is necessary viewing for those interested in vampire stories. Some audiences may balk at the violence of the picture, but it remains a groundbreaking and interesting entry in the genre.
Episode: #113 (October 22, 2006)