Director: Ole Bornedal
Starring: Nikolaj Coster Waldau, Sofie Gråbøl, Kim Bodnia, Lotte Andersen, Ulf Pilgaard
De søger en nattevagt, Martin er ikke mørkeræd, han har kun et problem… han får jobbet!
Martin is studying law, and to finance his studies he takes up a job as a night watchman at a local mortuary. He makes a bet with his best friend Jens that whatever they challenge the other person to do, regardless of how outrageous, they have to do. The first one who refuses has to get married.
While he is trying to settle in on his creepy new job, a serial killer starts to roam the streets killing off prostitutes. One of the bets Martin and Jens did included a seventeen year old prostitute named Joyce, who soon also ends up dead, making Martin become the prime suspect of the police.
Nattevagten var a huge hit in Denmark and the rest of Scandinavia at the time of its release. Most people up here in the north still consider it to have some of the most creepy scenes ever done in a nordic movie. I also had fond memories of it, but while revisiting it I got very disappointed by the film.
The film isn’t really about creepiness as I remembered it to be and it is more of a straight thriller that deals mostly with the relationship between the best friends Martin and Jens. The scenes with Martin alone in the mortuary at night are creepy though and Bornedal could easily have made this into a horror film instead if that was what he was going for. Perhaps that would have made it into a much more entertaining film aswell.
The acting of Nikolaj Coster Waldau (Martin) and Kim Bodnia (Jens) are quite good and it is strangely interesting to see how they continue to challenge each other into doing more and more perverted stuff. Jens is the worst and comes off as quite a douchebag, which only makes the character more interesting during the final part. I’d also like to say that Rikke Louise Andersson is very good in the role of the teenage prostitute Joyce and brings a lot of emotions to the table during the dinner scene.
A good thriller like this does require that the identity of the killer is hard to guess and that is not the case with this one. It becomes predictable very fast and that really hurts the film. The film also lost my interest after the first third of it and I wouldn’t say that the entertainment level of it is very high.
Director Ole Bornedal is still active today and was the director of The Possession, a modest budget horror film that did quite well in the US box office last year. He also directed the American remake to Nattevagten himself with Ewan McGregor and Patricia Arquette starring in it. That’s a remake that does make sense since there is plenty of stuff to improve in this one, something that Bornedal himself agrees with me on.
Nattevagten might have become a classic Danish movie, but it doesn’t hold up very well. The story isn’t good enough to keep you interested, the main characters are well acted but not very likeable and the few good scenes are the ones set in the mortuary, which isn’t that important to the main story. Revisiting it ended up being a little disappointing, it’s not a terrible movie but it is not very good either.