Which is worse: the first night in a new job? Being mocked by colleagues? Being given a second hand uniform with someone else’s name stitched on it? Vampires? Clowns? How about being mocked by colleagues on the first night in a new job wearing a second hand uniform while being attacked by vampire clowns?
It all begins with the death of Baltimore’s beloved clown Blimpo and his troupe who died under mysterious circumstances while on tour in Romania. The bodies shipped back to America for autopsy but the medical lab having already closed for the night the only place the couriers can stow the coffin is in the warehouse of the lower floors of the offices of the Baltimore Gazette next door.
Above, Ken and Jiggetts (House of Cards‘ Ken Arnold and Miracle’s Boys‘ Kevin Jiggetts) interview former Dra-Kool drummer turned prospective security guard “Rajeeve” (Thrill Kill’s Max Gray Wilbur), mocking him as a “Satanic Phil Collins” and teasing him that the original Rajeeve whose uniform he has inherited died of a flesh eating disease, while the sinister Luca (The Wire‘s Dan DeLuca) silently observes.
Further upstairs, Karen and Penny (American Poltergeist 3‘s Kara Luiz and Clipped‘s Diona Reasonover) are working on layouts and avoiding the unwanted attentions of sleazy big cheese Randall (Horns‘ James Remar) whose pursuit for a quick buck is not averse to frisking a corpse for valuables. Woken from his dreamless sleep, clownpire Blimpo is not planning to entertain the crowds…
Directed by Holy Ghost People‘s Mitchell Altieri and filling the Friday late evening slot at Dead by Dawn, to say The Night Watchmen should not be taken seriously is not the same as to say that it should be dismissed. While not particularly original and far from intellectual or sophisticated, it is inventive and energetic and blessed with a cast who are quite obviously enjoying themselves hugely despite what Altieri has put them through.
Of course, with the script credited to Arnold, DeLuca and Lovely Molly‘s Jamie Nash, they have nobody to blame but themselves for the shenanigans, indignities and copious fountains of blood which they endure. “I watched every episode of True Blood,” an understandably horrified Karen complains; “That did not happen.”
Perhaps less Buffy the Vampire Slayer and more the movie which preceded it, the vampire prosthetics nevertheless very much modelled after the distinctive look of that show, it’s a low-budget late night splatterfest of equal parts low humour and copious gore throwing whatever is to hand in the mix as evidenced by the survivors gathering anything they can prior to their weapon training montage.
The siege a microcosm of the barely glimpsed nocturnal chaos unfolding on the streets beyond carried by the exuberant ensemble cast, The Night Watchmen will not win any prizes for technical excellence or panache but will appeal to a broad audience whose taste runs more to Evil Dead and its over the top ilk than Twilight.