Chattanooga Film Festival Movie Review: THE NIGHT WATCHMEN (2017)

THE NIGHT WATCHMEN is a horror comedy film directed by Mitchell Altieri that follows four inept night security guards and a tabloid journalist as they become involved in a bloody fight for survival against co-workers, city civilians, and clowns – all of which have turned into vampires. Steeped in 80’s formula and cheese from it’s plot to its montages and score, genre fans who long for that decade of horror will find much to appreciate within THE NIGHT WATCHMEN‘s 79 minute runtime. However, the humor of the film, though otherwise funny, can be offensive enough to detract from the experience for certain viewers.

The glaring issue with THE NIGHT WATCHMEN‘s brand of humor is that it’s patronizing and sexist to a high degree, with our otherwise likable characters frequently viewing women as objects and only valuing the lives (even before the vampire horde attacks) of women they deem attractive – to the extent, even, that they can’t remember the names of women who don’t suit their tastes. This behavior is not only used in a joking manner, but it’s constantly rewarded by the film. As we strive to make a difference in our society and pursuit of equality, it’s a shame that THE NIGHT WATCHMEN puts itself in this cringe-worthy situation.

The film is blatantly crass as well in regard to its treatment of race, often painting a humiliating, negative image of any race that doesn’t adhere to their stereotypes. Though this aspect of THE NIGHT WATCHMEN isn’t laid on quite as thick as the sexism of our male characters and is eventually used in a “moral of the story” type of way, it’s unfortunate that the writers were so content to reach for low-hanging fruit.

If, and I do mean “if”, you can get past these offensive, oblivious flaws, THE NIGHT WATCHMEN proves itself capable of success in the horror comedy subgenre. Though never scary, the film remains light, breezy, and highly entertaining as our boneheaded characters are cast into a horrific situation and forced to “luck” themselves out of trouble as they learn to adapt and fight. The cast members perform admirably and have ample chemistry with each other (though their characters are fairly one-note), so when THE NIGHT WATCHMEN leaves the door open for a potential sequel, it’s not something I’m against so long as the writers acquire better taste.

All in all, if vampire clowns, montages, and cheese reminiscent of the 1980’s sounds like your kinda party, THE NIGHT WATCHMEN is enjoyable enough to check out. Just don’t expect an awful lot of class from this circus.

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