The stylish Russian vampire movie Night Watch -- released anywhere from 2004 to 2006, depending on your geography -- sent the blood rushing back in to the vampire genre in a sudden surge. It can't help but be a disappointment, then, that not a single pair of pointy incisors makes an appearance in its sequel. This isn't because vampires walk at night, and Day Watch is day-oriented -- in fact, the premise is that good and evil forces sleep on opposite schedules, monitoring each other to maintain the peace. Nor is it fair to expect exclusively vampire activity, since witches, shapeshifters, and other fantastical creatures also play their role in the epic struggle. But there's something bloodless about Day Watch nonetheless -- an inability to recreate the urgency of the original, despite all the character development and story advancements you'd expect from a sequel.
Day Watch makes a good case that the thrill of discovery was key to the original's pleasures, and not just in terms of the world it presented; Night Watch also boasted an inspired concept for its subtitles, making them living pictorial elements that became an essential part of the viewing experience for English audiences. That gimmick returns, but without the same sense of surprise freshness, it feels perfunctory. Director Timur Bekmambetov still has a full bag of camera tricks and F/X at his disposal -- a sequence in which a car drives along the side of a skyscraper is particularly memorable. However, since Day Watch suffers from the "middle-movie syndrome" that afflicts certain trilogies, these visuals tend to serve the purpose of a lot of narrative dilly-dallying. It was also unwise for Bekmambetov to try his hand at humor, as several scenes of silliness compromise what should be the series' prize weapon: its mood. Maybe the third movie -- titled either Twilight Watch or Dusk Watch, check your local listings -- will bring that mood back.