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2 Ratings: 2.0
A movie directed by Ole Bornedal

While choking down his new job as the night watchman in a creepy, eerily lit morgue, a squeamish law student finds himself targeted as a suspect in the serial killings of prostitutes. Long on style, with solid technical execution of the requisite alone-with-corpses … see full wiki

Director: Ole Bornedal
Genre: Drama
Release Date: April 17, 1998
MPAA Rating: R
1 review about Nightwatch

Worth it for the funny parts

  • Dec 24, 2007
Pros: See the title of this essay

Cons: Predictable, really silly and bad ending

The Bottom Line: I liked it despite itself (sorry for the circularity). It's is subtitled and easy to figure out, but if you have no trouble with this; I recommend it with reservations.

Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie's plot.

Nattevagten (Danish for Nightwatch) is a film I was pretty sure I had seen a few years ago with an English title and an English speaking cast. I was right. Three years after the Danish version, Ole Bornedal directed an English version of his Danish original. I watched the English version for Ewan McGregor (a favorite of mine for more than one reason).

Nattevagten is very much like The Vanishing. The original Vanishing is in Dutch then followed up by an American version both by the same director. The main difference between this comparison is that the American Vanishing has a totally different ending—in Nightwatch, if memory serves, nearly all the focus is on the forensic lab where Martin works rather than a real complicating factor.

There are two plotlines that just barely overlap, but just enough to keep the viewer off-balance. There is a serial killer on the loose whose target is prostitutes. Against this scrim, Martin (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) is a law student who becomes a night watchman at a forensic/coroner’s building. The job is dull; Martin just goes around marking the time he does his rounds. The only other people in the building are corpses, so obviously strange and eerie things will happen here. The climax will, naturally happen here also.

The second plotline is between Martin and Jens (Kim Bordina). The pair challenge each other to a sort of prank game with no limits. This prank game is typically very funny. This complicates things a bit, one for a standard plot device for a film of this kind, but it also adds something that stops the film from totally sucking. The way Jens refuses to take communion at the first service his girlfriend Lotte (Lotte Andersen) performs as a Lutheran minister is truly hysterical.

For more . . .

Nattevagten is predictable to a fault; most vaguely experienced filmgoers will have this one figured out from early on. So why watch it?

As would be typical for a horror film, the people most involved in the plot will be pretty—the major difference in the Danish version is that the men are pretty too and the women, while attractive, are not the usual buxom sort American males would expect. Again, this is a standard.

Given what seems to be a wholly negative review, the reason to watch it is that the funny bits, and there are more than just a few are worth it. Facing a foregone conclusion your choices are to cut your losses and decide not to finish it, or to see what you might otherwise get. The pranks are immature, of course, but there is some serious deviousness to them. If you tend to feel for the victims, you will not find this one funny. These pranks do not just affect the other male, they have some collateral damage—this is where those who feel for the victim will not like it.

To be honest, I netflixed it because I am trying to learn Danish, so there is that side too.

If you don’t like subtitles and predictable endings then there is no reason to consider this at all.


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