#15 – We Are the Night
Dennis Gansel’s follow-up to his provocative but flawed drama The Wave is equally troubled. We Are the Night follows Lena (Karoline Herfurth), a young thief who winds up being drawn into the world of a trio of vampires after being bitten by one. An unconventional coming-of-age story of sorts, Lena is eased into vampiric maturation by the elder of the gang, Louise (Nina Hoss), allowing her to indulge in the more hedonistic aspects of her transformation. No matter how much food, alcohol, drugs and sex the violent femmes partake in, they will never get fat, and never get pregnant.
Through and through, this is a feminist vampire text, set in a world in which male vampires no longer exist; they have been rendered extinct by the female contingent of the species. There’s also a well-placed tragic side to their predicament; if these women actually like a man, it is their duty to be as acerbic as possible, for otherwise their primal urges – both sexual and for sustenance – will take over. There’s also a welcome knowing subplot where we learn that one of the girls was a silent film actress prior to being turned.
However, while original ideas do abound in German director Gansel’s vamp B-movie, it also relies too often on genre clichés and stock characters. An early moment in which Lena ravenously munches on raw meat straight out of her fridge feels derived from at least half a dozen recent vampire films, and a subplot which has the police chasing the vampires only slows the pic down. Predictably, Lena falls for the chief investigating officer, but their relationship feels underdeveloped and moreover, quite unnecessary. And of course, the ultimate trajectory of the narrative – wherein a schism sends the gang on a collective path to oblivion – is pretty much never in doubt throughout.
It’s stylishly constructed and a better feminist vampire yarn than Twilight, but still problematic in itself.