Movies · Reviews

Foreign Objects: We Are the Night (Germany)

By  · Published on June 16th, 2011

There are few genre character-types as tired and overdone as the vampire. They’re rarely scary, usually uninteresting, and often terribly predictable. They’ve become so mundane and commonplace that any attempt to shake up the norm automatically raises a film’s value and may help offset other issues. 30 Days Of Night for example trades the sexy, vampiric allure for some truly effective and horrific monsters. Daybreakers adds a unique, sci-fi twist that made vamps the normal citizens and humans the ones hiding in the dark. Let the Right One In is a coming of age tale that happens to feature a vampire. We Are the Night isn’t quite up to the standards of that Swedish chiller, but it’s definitely as good or better than the other two.

The film opens on a passenger jet high in the night sky as the camera tracks from the blood-soaked cockpit back through an equally messy passenger cabin before coming to rest on three well-dressed, smiling women. Engorged on their energy drink of choice they knock out the fuselage door and leap from the plane…

They cross paths with a street thief named Lena (Karoline Herfurth) and take her under their wing when the trio’s de facto leader, Louise (Nina Hoss), falls for her hard and bites her even harder. Lena’s indoctrination into the family brings her on a wild ride through a world of wealthy excess, emotional conflict, and the thirst for human blood, but with Berlin’s finest hot on their trail can these fanged fugitives survive to see another sunrise?

“We eat, drink, sniff coke, and fuck as much as we like. But we never get fat, pregnant, or hooked.”

That quote is an edgier, dirtier take on The Lost Boys’ “Sleep all day, party all night, it’s fun to be a vampire” tagline, and it sums up the first two thirds of the film fairly well. After the stellar mid-air opening we’re treated to a well choreographed foot chase and an initiation for Lena that’s quite a bit harsher than the foggy bridge jump Jason Patric had to endure in Joel Schumacher’s film. They essentially toss her in a room with an abusive rapist and force her to confront her bloodlust. Once her powers are awakened she embraces them fully and learns to enjoy the extra strength, wall-walking ability, and high-stakes thievery the women thrive upon.

The film proceeds to explore the lives and lifestyles of the the four women in the quieter moments between the action and manages to say a lot about each by saying as little as possible. Louise’s attraction towards Lena is clear in her eyes and smile while Lena herself is torn between this ancient seductress and the young police detective who previously caught her stealing. Nora (Anna Fischer) is a pixie-ish wild girl intent on soaking up all the physical rewards her powers can afford her while at the same time terrified of the damage those abilities could do to someone she cares for. Charlotte (Jennifer Ulrich) meanwhile eschews modern fashions in favor of a wardrobe more at home in the roaring twenties which is when she was turned. It’s more than the outfits of the time that she misses however as her silence and obvious sadness hints at the family she was forced to leave behind.

Traditional vampire tropes are played with, but it’s the fresh ideas that appeal here. The vamps are sexy without being exploited and are clearly in control of their situation. And the explanation given for the lack of male vampires is a doozy that makes me wish it was accompanied by flashbacks. The film definitely has heart, something lacking in most vampire movies, but it still manages to pack a visceral and stylish punch.

Director Dennis Gansel walks a thin line between showcasing his characters’ remaining humanity and highlighting the kick-ass shenanigans their abilities lead to, but he slides a bit heavy towards the latter for the film’s third act. It races ahead focuses purely on the element of action at the expense of logic and character. The film is no less entertaining for it, but the women get a bit lost amidst the gunfire and mayhem.

We Are the Night fits comfortably into the mold of non-traditional vampire movies, and while its ‘girl power’ message and stylish action aesthetic can’t compensate fully for its few faults it still manages to be a highly watchable and entertaining addition to the genre. I’d say it’s the best German vampire film since Nosferatu… but they’re the only two I know.

We Are the Night is currently available on VOD.

The Upside: Puts a feminine, action-fueled spin on vampires; several cool scenes including opening; characters exhibit real emotional traits and behavior; explanation for absence of male vampires is great; sexy female vampires, duh

The Downside: The two leads exhibit less character depth than the two supporting vamps; third act gets a bit lost in action for the sake of action; no nudity aside from some hairy guys in the shower!

Foreign Objects travels the world of international cinema each week looking for films worth visiting. So renew your passport, get your shots, and brush up on the local age of legal consent!

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Rob Hunter has been writing for Film School Rejects since before you were born, which is weird seeing as he's so damn young. He's our Chief Film Critic and Associate Editor and lists 'Broadcast News' as his favorite film of all time. Feel free to say hi if you see him on Twitter @FakeRobHunter.