Midnight Son

Scott Leberecht’s haunting, emotional horror makes a huge impression.

Released in limited cinemas 11th January 2013.

This low-budget, minimalist horror is an elegant and sensual vampire romance that’s light years away from a certain sparkly franchise.

American writer-director Scott Leberecht makes his hugely impressive debut by subtly playing with vampire conventions, giving it a fascinating realism. Star Zak Kilberg once read for the role of Edward Cullen, but his sad, expressive good looks (think a young Christopher Walken) are put to far better use as Jacob, a 24-year-old night security guard whose severe allergy to sunlight has led to a life of loneliness.

Excellent genre character actor Tracey Walter pops up as the kindly janitor who presciently observes that the young man is at the cusp of change. Indeed, Jacob has become anaemic and jaundiced despite a voracious appetite. After putting away a steak, he accidently discovers blood is the only thing that can satiate the crippling hunger pangs, leading to some incredible scenes of him furtively pouring butcher’s blood into coffee cups to be satisfied on the go.

This strange metamorphosis moves fast when he meets cigarette seller Mary (Maya Parish, also producing) after another shy and futile night out on his own. With a cocaine addiction, Mary has her own troubles, but the pair have an instant, believable attraction based on their vulnerability. Their first passionate encounter is the trigger for Jacob’s new dietary requirements in a most unconventional way, but this awkward and frightening experience threatens to drive a wedge between Jacob and Mary, neither of whom know what is happening.

Jacob quickly becomes addicted to human blood, but the gentle soul needs to think of increasingly genius ways of procuring it without harm, with a little help from some corrupt members of the medical profession. As Jacob gets in over his head, Leberecht deftly balances the thriller aspects of his drama with the romance, with one of the more realistic and genuinely sexy love scenes seen in years.

Midnight Son may lurk in the darkness, but cinematographer Lyn Moncrief’s visuals combine harsh fluorescent lights to highlight the emaciated, sunken Jacob inbetween fixes, the warm glow of his cocoon-like encounters with Mary, and the shadows of a California when the sun goes down. The simplicity and ingenuity of Leberecht’s ideas mean the film packs a punch when it comes to macabre horror, and punches are not pulled when it comes to gore. There’s a healthy dose of humour too, mostly of the self-deprecating kind as the script tenderly examines Jacob’s sorry, potentially tragic life.

This haunting, emotional horror makes a huge impression - it’s lingered in the memory since its first UK screening at 2010’s FrightFest and deserves the attention of genre fans.

Rating: 8/10