Cult classic released on DVD

Originally released in 1994 and later disappointingly remade by director Ole Bornedal with the help of Ewan McGregor and Nick Nolte, Danish horror/thriller Nightwatch still astounds in 2008 with its DVD release.

Eager to fund his education, law student Martin takes the job of night watchmen at a morgue in Copenhagen. His already creepy occupation is made all the more nervous by the dread created by a serial killer whose peculiar fetish is to scalp prostitutes. Local detective Wormer is on the trail of the murderer, but the situation becomes all the more chaotic thanks in part to Martin’s lunatic friend Jens and the unwitting involvement of his girlfriend Kalinka.

Denmark isn’t exactly renowned for delivering horrors and, suitably, Nightwatch isn’t a film that can be easily compared to the usual suspects. From the outset, the film’s tension is overbearing. Spooked by the atmospherics of his new workplace, Martin’s fear is transcendent, greatly assisted by the sterile neutrality of the building and the ominous buzz of the lighting both gnawing at the nerves.

Nightwatch is also informed by a sick, leftfield humour that’s unsettling enough to blacken the fear factor, with Jens challenging and provoking Martin into enacting dubious dares, the consequences of which complicate the plot credibly. Although the revelation of the murderer is unlikely to surprise anyone, Bornedal’s grinding of black comedy and murderous suspense remains one of the great barely discovered films of the nineties.

DVD bonus features are limited to a trailer and a decent thirty minute ‘making of’ feature.

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