Made in Britain: Night Junkies

I’ve not reviewed anything for a bit, so I thought I’d return with a totally unheralded and probably not worth commenting on British horror movie. I’ve talked in great length about Vampire films and mythology in the past, but I’m doing this one in the interests of balance that it isn’t only America that turns out sub-par bloodsucking efforts. 2007 British effort Night Junkies isn’t a dreadful film, but it is a hackneyed one, the principle problem being that writer/ director Lawrence Pearce couldn’t resist abusing the obvious metaphor. Still, there is a fair bit to admire here, and he’s certainly not afraid of throwing the claret around and filling every square inch of the screen with boob, so it’s not an abject failure.

One of the perpetual problems that cinematic depictions of vampirism suffers from is that there are many metaphors that are ludicrously easy to apply to the genre. Firstly, there’s vampirism= sex. This has been hammered into the ground all over the place, and has almost become passé. Secondly, there is vampirism= paedophilia (step up Twilight and Let the Right One In, although one is a good film and the other is evil Mormon propaganda swill). The third obvious analogy is Vampirism= addiction. If you think about it for a second, one of the defining features of the vampire myth is that they are unable to control the craving for blood- their existence is a stretched thin junk nightmare looking for the next hit. Night Junkies, is all about this idea.

The problems start almost instantaneously. We’re treated to a pompous voiceover from Vincent (Giles Alderson), likening himself to just one of London’s millions of feral junky scum. The film isn’t confident enough to allow us to see this visually, so he has to tell us, and this is a mistake repeated frequently throughout the run-time. It’s not edgy, not necessary and generally annoying. In the background, (a truly disastrous piece of writing given what happens in the end) we’re informed of a serial killer on the rounds who is messily butchering London’s prostitutes.

Cut to a strip club (huzzah!) and we’re introduced to reluctant hooker Ruby (Katia Winter). She’s having problems with her bosses (a very sleazy Jonny Coyne and a frankly appallingly overacting René Zagger). Through a freak series of events she ends up hooking up with Vincent, and thus turned into a vampire. Events spiral out of control, leaving Ruby facing off against the serial killer (absolutely no prizes for guessing who) who is now a vampire himself. Except the film implies that he’s always been a vampire if you were paying attention to the news bulletin at the start.

I won’t spoil the actual finale, but really, we’ve seen it done hundreds of times before.

This is going to be a mostly negative review, but I feel a bit unfair doing it. The first half of the film is actually quite good, the cinematography is clever, and Pearce has worked hard conjuring up an atmosphere. What this section most feels like, actually is the One-Eyed Jacks sequences in Twin Peaks. There’s a sleazy and dreamlike atmosphere, and the film drifts along quite happily in a haze. Yes, I do get that this is meant to simulate the “high” sections of the film, but the soft focus works supremely well here.

The problem is that the film can’t maintain this atmosphere. At some point, reality is going to have to intrude on our characters, and there’s a supremely aggravating cold turkey scene between Ruby and Vincent that was so badly written, acted and directed that the film lost me completely. The scene in question is only about two-thirds of the way through the film, and it utterly fails to recover from it. This is a problem with the writing, and being shoddily written is the endemic failure of Night Junkies.

To start with, the characters are single-dimensional and often contradictory. Vincent, for example, seems to be struggling with his vampirism when we first meet him. However, later on he jumps right into it, and is then all about the blood-sucking and turning Ruby into a fully fledged monster like him. Where’s the man attempting to control his addiction gone? Then there’s the treatment of the serial killer. For a start, we know when he was infected, yet he’s been up to vampirish antics all the time beforehand? Get the fuck out of here with that. Secondly, he gets his arse absolutely handed to him by Ruby, and then him and a mate get beaten truly shitless by Vincent. Yet we’re supposed to believe that he’s some kind of evil badass at the end of the film that’s more than capable of taking down our two heroes? You’ve established that he isn’t a threat, you tit, so get the fuck out of here with that too.

The acting is OK (apart from Zagger). Anderson does his best Edward Cullen impersonation (i.e. he mopes around looking all brooding and whatnot) and Winter is perky on-screen (only loses her English accent a few times) and more than willing to share her Swedish pastries with the camera. So props there. However, the crap writing interferes again with the performances. When they first meet, we’re meant to believe that he draws her into his lair using a blueberry muffin. I’m sorry, but this whole scene is so stagey, and the dialogue so stilted that you automatically struggle to believe that she’d go with an obvious nut-stroking pervert such as him. It’s not the actors’ fault, it’s the shitty writing.

On a minor point of note before I sign off on this one, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a vampire film where the undead lack enlarged Canines. I actually quite like this, as it renders the feeding sequences brutal and supremely unpleasant- they tear hunks out of people. There’s nothing elegant and sexy about it, which I suppose is appropriate for a film that is essentially a junk metaphor.

Overall, this is a nigh-on impossible film for me to rate. The first half of it (muffin scene aside) does earn it the time to get you to the end, and the surreal club scenes are supremely well done. There’s shit-loads of boob, some nasty sex and prostitution and I really, really want to like it. At the end of the day, however, the writing is too cosmically awful for me to give it a real recommendation. What’s aggravating is that there is a good film in here struggling to get out, but it’s a classic case of ambition outstripping ability and someone really needed to rein in Pearce’s worst excesses (and re-write the fucking script). I don’t really recommend it, because it isn’t worth it, but I don’t hate it either. I give it an utterly balanced 1 and a half cartoon strippers out of 4, and I’ve got the sneaking suspicion that I’m being generous with it.

Until next time,

Jarv.

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About Jarv

Workshy cynic, given to posting reams of nonsense on the internet and watching films that have inexplicably got a piss poor reputation.

62 responses to “Made in Britain: Night Junkies”

  1. Kloipy says :

    good review Jarv. I’m pretty sick of vampires by now. Think once the trend is over we won’t see much for a long time. Even though most people seem to dislike it (and I won’t say it’s actually good) I do like True Blood. I like the fact that they embrace being vampires instead of hating the ‘im a monster’ thing. It’s totaly cheese, but i do enjoy it

  2. Echo the Bunnyman says :

    When was this made? It feels like it belongs to the late 90s, like say Razorblade Smile or The Addiction or Cold Hearts. It also sounds terrible. Did you ever see To Die For, Jarv?

    Vamps without the canines? Didnt they do this on Xfiles? The fat kid from Sandlot (You’re killing me smalls!) was a vampire pizza delivery boy who wore vamp fangs because he didnt have real teeth to puncture the neck. He was however, still a real vampire. I think Luke Wilson was also in the ep.

  3. Echo the Bunnyman says :

    regarding vampiric metaphors…one of my favorites–Ravenous, where vampirism is equated to westward expansion and manifest destiny.

    I always thought Ravenous was an underrated movie. And yes, I know they technically eat the flesh, but it’s a vampire movie in every other sense, including the supercharged fight at the end.

    • Jarv says :

      I’ve never seen that either.

      • Droid says :

        Ravenous is a good flick. I haven’t seen it since it first came out. Should revisit it.

      • Jarv says :

        Not appropriate to anything but fuck e4 and their stupid SMM crap with misfits.

        No I will not get an E4 account.

        They’re aiming at the teen demographic with this series. It’ll be shit.

      • Kloipy says :

        Ravenous is good. It’s more dark comedy than anything. Used to play every 15 seconds on HBO in the early 2000’s

      • Toadkillerdog says :

        Mr. Nentalop,
        What did you make of the ortiz/mayweather finale?
        I thought ol vic gt what he deserved for the head butt and his past behavior, but still floyd is a punk and I am coming around to view that he does not really want manny unless he has it totally on his terms, which will never happen

    • Continentalop says :

      Technically Ravenous is about the Wendigo myth and not about vampires.

      • Bartleby says :

        yea, true, although it’s more an appropriation of the wendigo myth grafted onto a basic vampire story. The metaphor for devouring and draining and gaining the power therein, driven mad by a thirst that has no reason, is the same either way–and in that instance it was tied into the westward expansion. Which ewas kind of clever.

        But yes, technically, not vampires.

      • Continentalop says :

        I was just being anal Bart. While I never really saw it as a vampire story other than how Wendigo’s naturally resemble them in some ways, I do agree with you that using a “ravenous” monster as a metaphor for West ward expansion was pretty damn clever.

  4. Continentalop says :

    I hope everybody is not too sick of vampire movies, since I’m planning on making one.

  5. TomBodet says :

    This decidedly needs Giant Robots AND Vampiric Tigers (in hats).

    Search your feelings.

  6. Droid says :

    I see the title “Night Junkies” and I simply think these dimwits are addicted to staying up late.

    Soooooo bored of vampires.

    • Jarv says :

      Depends on the vampires.

      Stakeland and Daybreakers used them properly. But as a rule, no thanks. I reckon they need a good 20 year rest.

      • Droid says :

        Yeah, but I’ll be honest and say those two movies suffered for me because they were about vampires. I think they’re 2.5 chang films. If I wasn’t suffering from vampire exhaustion I might have been more into them and rated them higher. The Crazies for example. Something a little different and I’m already on it’s side from the get-go. Vampire films now have to win me over.

      • Jarv says :

        Crazies I’d say comes under Zombie (which are also hopelessly overplayed).

        I think Supernatural horror is coming back- Innkeepers and Insidious are two examples and even that shit MSTT was arguably supernatural. The problem is that ghost stories get played out at twice the speed of the other two, because they haven’t got gore and nudity to make up for things.

      • Jarv says :

        All 3, however, are preferable to Slasher films- which are well and truly fucked at the moment.

  7. Continentalop says :

    Mr. Nentalop,
    What did you make of the ortiz/mayweather finale?
    I thought ol vic gt what he deserved for the head butt and his past behavior, but still floyd is a punk and I am coming around to view that he does not really want manny unless he has it totally on his terms, which will never happen

    Hey Toad. My response to the fight is pretty much the same as this guy’s (even if I do consider him a douchebag).

    And I actually don’t think Floyd is scared of Manny or even ducking him, he just is a businessman. He made 40+ million on that fight because he promoted it. No way is he going to get that kind of return on a fight with Manny that Bob Arum co-promotes even if the fight itself sells a lot better. he made 70% on the Ortiz fight, but even if the Mann fight makes 50% more he has to split it with Manny’s people, so he’ll actually be making about $10 million more fighting sub-par fighters like Ortiz. No wonder Floyd changed his nickname to Money.

    • Jarv says :

      That’s pathetic.

      He’s made plenty, it should be about the glory now.

      • Continentalop says :

        That’s easy for us to say, considering we don’t have the skill Floyd does. What does he care about glory? He already thinks he is the best. I honestly think he looks at himself as a business venture now and is trying to maximize his profits considering how much he invested to get as good as he is.

      • Jarv says :

        Sure it is easy for us to say.

        BUT he’s always yapping on about his legacy- which now looks in severe danger of being “The man that pussied out of fighting Manny”.

        No boxer wants to be known as that.

    • Toadkillerdog says :

      I did not realize he promoted this fight. The last I heard was he was not happy with 50/50.

      All the arm chair psychoanalyzing still gets us nowhere near the truth or the fight.

      I am going to re-watch hagler-hearns this weekend

  8. kloipy says :

    did you guys hear that someone broke into Manny Paqiou’s house? Sounds like a thriller to me.
    He came for the goods. Under cover of darkness. But what he didn’t know- Was that. He. Just. Fucked. With. The . Wrong. House.
    AAAAAAAAAAAAAAWWWWWWWWWWWWAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHAAAAAAAAAAA. AAAAAAAAAAAAAA I COME FROM THE LAND OF THE ICE AND SNOW

  9. Just Pillow Talk says :

    Sounds like a completely forgettable movie.

    “the characters are single-dimensional and often contradictory”

    Yup, they belong in a rom-com.

  10. ThereWolf says :

    I’ve not had enough of vampires yet – but this one doesn’t sound like it’s helping. I didn’t like ‘Daybreakers’ either.

    What was ‘Skinwalkers’? Was that vampires? Any good?

    • Continentalop says :

      I haven’t seen “Skinwalkers” but in Native American folklore they’re shapeshifters, so I imagine it is a werewolf movie.

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