Come Alive

This was supposed to be our night!

– Zoe

I decided to start the weekend with something new, only it was more like something old. By which I mean that I watched Adam Randall’s 2021 vampire thriller, Night Teeth. It’s basically Michael Mann’s Collateral (2004) crossed with the vampire politics bits of Blade (1998). This doesn’t mean its bad, by any stretch – steal from the best, as any writer will tell you.

It’s a stylish film. Daytime is grimy orange-filter, and night-time is all neon and flash. The human characters are down to earth and subdued while the vampires are bombastic and predatory. A handy voiceover during the opening crawl sketches out the world the characters inhabit – vampire cabals, secret societies of vampire hunters and hints that the world is much larger than the events of the film would have us believe. The story itself isn’t earth-shaking – its an undead turf war, a struggle between middle-management monsters over control of a single territory. But its drawn so vividly, in such an over-the-top pulp novel fashion that its hard not to be a little impressed.

Unfortunately, the characters suffer some in comparison. We never learn much about any of them or what motivates them beyond a few obvious, abrupt declamations – dead fiancé, power, etc. – and the film moves so quickly that we don’t get much sense of them beyond a set of broad attributes – Lucy Fry’s Zoe is crazy, Alfie Allen’s Victor is a schemer, Debby Ryan’s Blaire is resigned, Jorge Lendeborg Jr.’s Benny wants a music career – that are never fleshed out to any real degree. They exist as largely static archetypes, unchanging and unchanged by their experiences save in the most obvious fashion (it’s a given in a vampire film that one of the characters will become a vampire, f’r instance).

Again, this is not to say the film is bad. Far from it. The actors make a lot out of a little, investing their characters with quirky charm aplenty and the script gives them plenty of room to play. It’s hard not to like all of them, even Zoe – except Victor, but that’s Alfie Allen’s strength really: he really knows how to portray a character you can hate without reservation.

Its an entertaining hour and a half, full of some brilliantly stylish sequences and the SFX for vampire deaths is on point (they crumple and contract as they burn, which is a fantastically original take on the usual ashy collapse), and if it leans a bit too hard on some tropes – well. That’s no great sin, especially when it comes to vampire films. Surprises are overrated, especially when it comes to horror films. I enjoyed it for what it was – a pacey thriller in the vein (get it?) of Near Dark (1987) or Prowl (2010).