Foreign horror has taken off quite a bit in the past decade and people really latch onto great movies from other countries once they make their way to the states. But we’re talking about the whole world. Some movies, even when they receive a stateside release, go largely unnoticed. Horror fans seem to typically latch onto only one or two foreign language movies a year. Released the same year as I Saw the Devil and Trollhunter, We Are the Night was generally overlooked.
This is unfortunate, because We Are the Night is a very good film. The story centers on a girl named Lena who is bitten by a vampire and becomes assimilated into that lifestyle and world. It doesn’t sound like a very original film on paper and doesn’t add anything new to the sub genre. But that’s one if its strengths. The movie was released at a time when movies that tried to reinvent the vampire sub-genre were failing to win over the horror audience. This was the height of Twilight’s popularity. If anything, We Are the Night offered an appreciated return to form. It borrows heavily from older vampire movies like Lost Boys and Near Dark. Calling the movie a lesbian version of The Lost Boys would not be inaccurate. Here we have a young criminal, a self-appointed rebel who does not fit into society. She is bitten at a nightclub by a beautiful woman named Louise, who introduces her to two women—Charlotte and Nora—who are also vampires and we follow Lena as she begins to come to grips with her condition.
Like all the best vampire movies, We Are the Night deals with some pretty serious themes: depression and suicide in particular. Both of which are fascinating things for a vampire picture to explore. What would a vampire have to be depressed about? How do we look at suicide without the consequence of death? These are questions that the movie examines in a very interesting way.
We Are the Night is a character-driven piece and that is what keeps it from becoming another typical vampire rehash. The overall story and the mythology are not new but the characters are what keep it interesting. These are fully-fledged, fully-developed characters. They’re well-acted to boot. Each actress shines and brings something completely different to their role. These women may all be vampires, but they all have completely distinct personalities. One great thing about vampires is the endless possibility for backstory. They can live forever, so they can come from not only all walks of life but all points in history. Many movies do not utilize this intriguing aspect, but luckily We Are the Night does. Louise was an aristocrat turned 280 years ago at a ball, Charlotte was a silent film actress and Nora was a 1990’s hippie.
Just because We Are the Night borrows a traditional structure that doesn’t mean there aren’t some interesting twists thrown in. One nice touch looks at the extent of a vampire’s healing powers. After Lena is turned, she not only loses all of her bruises and cuts; she loses her piercings and tattoos as well. The biggest change from the norm, however, is the reveal that there are no male vampires. Or rather, that there were male vampires but the female vampires hated their constant need for superiority and killed them all. This is such an interesting angle that vampire movies rarely, if ever, tackle. It’s a little too obvious to say that there is a feminist message here. What’s more interesting is to look at this plot point and what it means.
The female vampires killed all of the males and vowed never to turn another. If this is a statement on gender equality, what’s it saying? It’s not equality if one side wipes out the other, but it’s an interesting point nonetheless. And even with very few male characters, at this point the movie to some degree becomes a statement on misogyny. The arrogant male vampires got so power hungry that they had to be killed off. Maybe the most feminist aspect of We Are the Night is that it still portrays its female vampires as psychotic and violent. It doesn’t glorify these characters. This is an all-female society but it is not a utopia. They may be supernatural, but they are still human and they are still flawed. That’s what makes them interesting.
We Are the Night never really gained the audience it deserves, which is disappointing. It’s doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but it offers up a great story and interesting visuals. It’s a smart, unnerving movie and definitely worth a second look.