TADFF 2011: ‘Midnight Son’ will appeal to both casual and passionate vampire fans

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Midnight Son

Directed by Scott Leberecht

Written by Scott Leberecht

2011, USA

Jacob (Zak Kilberg) is a hapless security guard who works the graveyard shift in a downtown office building. He burns severely when he comes in contact with sunlight, he can’t feed his growing appetite despite binge eating, and his eyes turn yellow during sexual intimacy. His doctor believes he is anaemic, but Jacob has another distressing theory. Writer-director Scott Leberecht’s Midnight Son is a fresh and engaging take on the already tired and overcrowded vampire genre.

Much to his credit, Leberecht wisely avoids the typical vampire lore and rewrites all the rules: there are no bats or coffins, Jacob has a mirror reflection, and his canines are not peculiarly long. In fact, the film pokes fun at these conventions when Jacob reluctantly places a crucifix against his forehead and chuckles after it has no harmful effects.

Leberecht bases his story firmly in reality – preferring to treat Jacob’s affliction like a virus, which shows outward signs of drug-dependency. And like a common junkie, Jacob resorts to buying bags of blood from an unscrupulous hospital orderly (Jo D. Jonz) in alleys. Except for one moment of weakness, Jacob refuses to be controlled by his blood thirst. It’s as if he wants to hold on to whatever humanity he’s got left, which is precisely why the film leans more towards a coming of age story rather than a direct Nosferatu kin.

In vampire films, female protagonists often fall helplessly for their vampire’s dark allure – quite the opposite in Midnight Son. Jacob’s new girlfriend Mary (Maya Parish) is largely drawn to his frailty and his talent for painting sunsets. It just so happens that every time they get physically close, Jacob’s newly acquired vampire traits pull them apart.

Midnight Son is a first rate film that will appeal to both casual and passionate vampire fans. There’s a compelling story and a lot of blood-splatter. Leberecht’s script and direction is first rate and the performances by lead actors, Kilberg and Parish, are exceptional. Indeed, Midnight Son is proof-positive that there’s still life in the vampire genre.

Nigel Hamid

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