2 December 2007 | Coventry
You know how you often get extremely disappointed when you re-watch movies that petrified you as a kid and almost single-handedly were responsible for the development of your future phobias? Well, the Danish horror/suspense masterpiece "Nattevagten" is the symbolic exception that confirms the rule. More than a decade after its initially shocking & nightmarish impact, the film still is as unsettling as when it first came out. I saw this film shortly after its release in 1994, but most of the time my eyes & ears were covered by the sheets of my bed. In my defense, I was only 12 years old and the film is truly creepy! Although I now admit that the basic story and screenplay aren't entirely flawless, the atmosphere of "Nattevagten" is still indescribably tense and haunting. In order to make some extra money to finance his studies, 24-year-old Martin takes on a new job as the night watchman in the hospital's morgue. At the same time, however, the city is plagued by a maniacal serial killer who scalps his prostitute victims and drives the local police inspector Wörmer insane. Pretty soon the gruesomely deformed corpses end up in Martin's mortuary and he makes himself a suspect because of a series of strange betting games with his best friend Jens. Ole Bornedal's script isn't always 100% plausible and convincing, but at least it dares to feature some hugely controversial undertones (like necrophilia, religious blasphemy and under-aged prostitutes) and it patiently takes enough time to properly introduce the main characters and make them amiable. Some sequences are truly portentous and genuinely make the hairs on your arms & neck stand up straight, like when Martin hesitantly has to check out who set off the morgue's emergency alarm. There are several highlights of brilliant suspense in "Nattevagten", as well as prime examples of brilliant acting, beautiful art-direction and a truly peculiar sense of (pitch black) humor. There isn't that much gore or bloodshed in the film, but the few visceral moments are quite disturbing and in-your-face confronting. Great film, highly recommended to fans of superior horror cinema as well as the more established art-house fanatics. Also, Danish seems like a fascinating language to learn!