Nightwatch

"Nightwatch" is the slickly made but fairly conventional tale of a strapping young law student who works as a morgue nightwatchman and may be murdering prostitutes in his spare time. Leisurely suspenser, which topped Danish B.O. chart in March and April, strives to inject humor into unmask-the-stalker genre, and its requisite quotient of red herrings should please teens and horror fans.

“Nightwatch” is the slickly made but fairly conventional tale of a strapping young law student who works as a morgue nightwatchman and may be murdering prostitutes in his spare time. Leisurely suspenser, which topped Danish B.O. chart in March and April, strives to inject humor into unmask-the-stalker genre, and its requisite quotient of red herrings should please teens and horror fans.

Appealing newcomer Nikolaj Waldau plays Martin, who takes over the night rounds at the morgue from a middle-aged fellow who’s had enough of unsettling goings-on. A serial killer is snuffing and scalping prostitutes, whose corpses sometimes rise off the slab and roam the corridors. Post-mortem bonking also is a factor.

Martin has a loving and supportive relationship with his girlfriend, Kalinka (Sofie Graaboel), but is lured into misbehaving when he and best buddy Jens (Kim Bodnia) agree to a protracted game of truth or dare. Dark, faintly menacing Jens displays some creepy personality traits and has told a drug-addicted underage prostie that his name is really Martin.

As Martin grows increasingly unnerved at work, sensitive police inspector Wormer (Ulf Pilgaard) collects damning evidence that points to Martin as the killer.

Protracted thriller stretches the intrigue until deus ex machina time rolls around. Pic is nicely lit and lensed with flair. Nudity is well incorporated.

Director Ole Bornedal’s script self-reflexively makes fun of bad movie conventions (“If I were to say ‘I love you,’ would it sound like bad movie dialogue?”; “If this were a movie, they should call it ‘The Night Guard.’ “), but not quite enough for adult tastes.

Nightwatch

(DENMARK)

Production: An All Right Film Distribution release of a Thura Film production, supported by the Danish Film Institute in co-production with Danmarks Radio. (International sales: Nordisk Film TV Distribution.) Produced by Michael Obel. Directed, written by Ole Bornedal.

Crew: Camera (color), Dan Laustsen; editor, Camilla Skousen; music, Sort Sol, the Sandmen, Joachim Holbek; art direction, Soeren Krag Soerensen; costume design, Margrethe Rasmussen; sound (Dolby), Michael Dela. Reviewed at Espace Saint-Michel cinema, Paris, April 26, 1994. (In Cannes Film Festival -- Critics' Week.) Running time:104 MIN.

With: With: Nikolaj Waldau, Sofie Graaboel, Kim Bodnia, Lotte Andresen, Ulf Pilgaard, Rikke Louise Andersson.

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