Nightwatch (1994)

Genres - Thriller  |   Sub-Genres - Psychological Thriller  |   Run Time - 107 min.  |   Countries - Denmark   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Derek Armstrong

Nightwatch may remind viewers of George Sluizer's The Vanishing (1988), in the sense that both are stylish European horror/thrillers that the same director was hired to remake as a Hollywood studio picture, with vastly inferior results. It's easy to see why Ewan McGregor was chosen to play Nikolaj Waldau's role in the American version, since the two could be brothers, if it weren't for the fact that they speak different languages. Waldau makes an effective, slightly naïve everyman for Danish director Ole Bornedal's maze of morgue horrors, many of which are left to the viewer's imagination. Bornedal makes smart use of the quiet emptiness of the creepy building, contrasting it with the pop music Martin uses to keep himself awake. The space he patrols, with its halogen-lit corridors, becomes a character itself, with its arcane succession of doors without handles and locks that must be turned, which serve no purpose than to prove the guard completed his rounds. There's nothing really groundbreaking about what Bornedal does here, as the morgue setting and the killer's methods seem to be about as derivative as they are influential. However, there's no denying it's a taut, solidly crafted viewing experience, containing a sufficient number of genuine surprises, as well as a sense of humor. Bornedal also explores some interesting themes in his dialogue, tackling relationship fidelity and sexuality, and how men egg each other on toward dangerous experimentation.