A gem of genre film-making, an intelligent suspense thriller mixing necrophilia, mutilation and the darkest humour into a killer whodunnit. Acclaimed as one of the most chilling and terrifying thrillers ever made
Dannish writer and director Ole Bornedal's original envisaging of this film is a compelling and potent affair. The director remade it for a British audience a mear three years after the original but this is most definitely the film of the two to go with.
Young law sudent Martin takes a job as a nightwatchman at the local morgue while his college girlfriend studies to be an actress. Besides the hugely creepy and clearly unhinged caretaker who shows Martin the ropes, his tedious job is occasionally interuppted by a police officer intrigued with inspecting the bodies of local prostitutes who are being scalped by an unknown psychopath. All is not well when the body count starts rising and amidst some childish pranks between Martin and his domminant best friend Jens, a run in with a young local prostitute the finger is soon pointing at him as the cause of the murders.
The script and central characters are all utterly convincing and help the claustrophobic atmosphere rise and rise to an almost unbearable level of tension and both Martin (Nikolaj Coster Waldau) and his girlfriend Kalinka (Sofie Grabol) ring every last bit of fear and emotion out of the final scene. Setting the film in the morgue was a stroke of geius on Bornedeal's part and his use of location becomes an integral character in itself. Reigning in the usual blood drenched set pieces for the most part and favouring a refined but ultimately more startling approach, the key to the films slightly surprising climax relies almost entirely on suggestion, and whilst the viewer knows what attrocities are going on, the use of suggestion works wonders in the films favour. The discovery of the real killers identification sets the imagination into overdrive and demands an immediate rewatch so the viewer can tie the films numerous twists together.
Nightwatch is truly inspiring cinema. Highly watchable and eternally doom laden, this is one slice of horror that is due some rediscovery.