The Night Watchmen (2017) [Fantasia International Film Festival 2017]

After a clown is killed by a virus in Romania, his corpses is brought back to the United States.  Not long after, an office building is under attack by vampires and humanity’s only hope is a ragtag crew of inept night watchmen.

Written by Ken Arnold, Dan DeLuca, and Jamie Nash, and directed by Mitchell Altieri, The Night Watchmen is a fun horror-comedy that hits the spot in terms of both horror and comedy, something most films in the sub-genre do not manage this well.  The story is a bit silly, bringing clownpire, yes clown vampires, to an office building and having the most inept crew fight them off in ways that make no sense yet work perfectly fine within the film’s world.  Here the humor ranges from juvenile to dark humor and works fairly steadily throughout the run time.  The horror is fun, not particularly scary, but does have its moments.  The baddies are a touch ridiculous to say the least, but they are the reason why the film works so well, that and the cast of mismatched people fighting them.

The cast is led by writers Ken Arnold and Dan DeLuca as Ken and Luca, two of the titular Night Watchmen.  Joining them are Kevin Jiggets as Jiggets, Max Gray Wilbur as “Rajeeve”, and Kara Luiz as Karen.  Here the film didn’t look all that far for the character names, but it doesn’t matter.  What does is how they work together and they work fantastically in terms of a funny group to watch going through a night from hell the building they are meant to protect and work in.  The team connects in a way that gives them a chemistry that is sometimes explosive and sometimes logical.  That being said, they all handle the insanity and ridiculousness well and create the humor with how they act certain scenes and how they deliver some of their lines without a trace of humor, which in turn creates the funniest scenes.  Of course, not all characters are created equal and some of the smaller, supporting characters are a bit grating such as James Remar’s Randall and others are funnier and seriously under used such as Tiffany Shepis’ Stacy.  They both play characters that somewhat fit with each other in terms of how they are, yet they are different enough to have one work for this reviewer and the other fall flat.

The effects in The Night Watchmen are in big part practical with multiple different looks created for the clownpires, giving them a style of their own and something in common that connects all of them.  These clownpires look fantastic and make full use of the creepy clown cliché, using it to their advantage when it comes time to stalking their prey.  The rest of the practical effect such as the blood spray, the clownpire sort of explosion, etc are all gooey good stuff.  The visual effects (and CGI) are used sparsely and thus none intrusive, working with the practical effects in a way that enhances them and does not try to over-shadow them.  The fact that most of the memorable pieces here are practical effects is fantastic and should please many a horror fan.

The Night Watchmen is a fun horror-comedy filled with ridiculous non-sense that somehow works in the world where clownpires are a thing and where a metal drummer is more logical in battle than an ex-military.  The film has a bit of everything in terms of humor and some of it does fall flat, but those parts are few and far in-between enough to not really matter in the long run.  This is not serious horror, but it works as what it is, a fun, action filled, take on vampires and office horror.

Fantasia International Film Festival ran from July 13th to August 2nd.