A young man comes of age – and he’s out for blood
Scott Leberecht cut his teeth on movies as a visual effects specialist for such films as ERASER (1996), SPAWN (1997), and SLEEPY HOLLOW (1999), and as a screenwriter and director, MIDNIGHT SON is his first full-length feature film – and it’s a hit.
Jacob (Zak Kilberg) is stuck in a dead end job as a third shift security guard, though it seems new life will be breathed into his faltering existence after he runs into Mary (Maya Parish). Yet, he’s also changing into a new and re-defined young man when he discovers that human blood is the only thing that seems to sustain him. Though he tries to purchase old bags of blood from orderly Marcus (Jo D. Jonz), he’s afraid that he may have killed someone for their own vital fluid one night. Is he really a vampire?
Stop rolling your eyes. Diehard horror fans know we’ve seen this before in George Romero’s often under-rated MARTIN (1976) and VAMPIRE’S KISS (1988). Thankfully, although both movies engaged the same premise: The lead character thinks he’s a vampire; the two tales are completely different on every other level. MIDNIGHT SUN is also a unique addition to this vampiric subgenre.
There is intelligence and maturity to Leberecht’s low budget dramatic horror, as he focuses on the concept of self as well as relationships in a world where most seem to be self-indulgent. Above all, he has created well-rounded characters that are as likable as they are disdainful. He’s not afraid to show a hero’s dark side or the good side to someone with a less than welcoming agenda. As far as horrors and movies in general go, Leberecht presents real, human personas who are far more gray than black-and-white. I have not seen such vibrant, multi-faceted characters since Paul Solet’s GRACE (USA/Canada, 2009).
Though Kilberg does a wonderful job as the lead, Jonz owns every scene he’s in, and Parish is amazing. Jonz brings an unyielding presence to the screen one would be warned not to ignore. As for Parish, her emotional state can shift on a dime, which delivers a sincere performance. Collectively, the talent, which included veteran character actors Tracey Walter and Larry Cedar, kept the story moving in excellent, emotional and purposeful ways.
So why isn’t this a five star horror? Just a couple of little things. Arlen Escarpeta could have brought a bit more to his role, though he blew me away in FINAL DESTINATION 5, which came out that same year. Due to the low budget, Leberecht and company had to work with existing lighting. On occasion, Lyn Moncrief’s cinematography seemed a bit static and sterile, though his use of that “existing lighting” is often fantastic.
***** SPOILER ALERT *****
Storywise, Leberecht mimicked something Nicholas St. John (and others) did for his script THE ADDICTION (1996), which Abel Ferrara directed: A bite from a vampire can turn another person into a vampire. This means the “affection” is in the saliva. As a vampire fan, I prefer the bloodborne element, and the exchange between host and the-soon-to-be-turned through a more erotic blood exchange. After all, “blood is the life”, and contamination through saliva is far too droll.
***** END SPOILER *****
Regardless, this is a winner for Leberecht, cast and crew, and MIDNIGHT SON should grow to become the next cult favorite. At least I hope so. In the meantime, I’ll watch the film again, and if you see this crawl up to a 4.5 star rating, that will be no accident.
4 out of 5 stars