Within us all exists a dark side. How we choose to use it is what makes the difference. Some use it to fuel artwork, to inspire others, while others use it to hurt those around them. While we all have the capability to be monsters, those that appear as such maybe harmless. In Clive Barker’s NIGHTBREED, the monstrous denizens of Midian may not be as harmful as they appear, until provoked by those acting in the name of the law.
Below a graveyard named Midian, lives a tribe of creatures, some humanoid, others not quite so. They are creatures of the night, some deathly sensitive to sunlight, so the catacombs below the graveyard have suited them well. Aaron Boone has been having dreams of Midian and it’s inhabitants for quite some time, and after his psychiatrist sets him off on a hallucinatory trip framing him for murder, it’s time for Boone to make his way to Midian.
Authorities set to protect deem themselves as an example, any deviance from that template is something to fear and be persecuted. Bigotry with a sense of empowerment is a dangerous thing as we are seeing more and more examples of this with recent deaths perpetrated by law enforcement. The innocent have to live even more in fear, both from the normal predators, but from their supposed protectors as well. In NIGHTBREED, the law of Shere Neck led by the Sons of the Free militia are a group that is to be more feared than the Tribe of the Moon.
Having previously seen the original theatrical cut long ago, it is refreshing to be able to finally see Clive Barker’s full vision played out on screen. While the original gave a teaser into the plight of the Midianites, this version delved more into it, painting them even more the victims. And thankfully, from the steadfast work done by Mark Miller, we were able to have this version see the light of day. With the newly found film elements, they were able to piece together the film Barker intended, and Scream Factory did a wonderful job with it’s presentation. The film looks great and sounds amazing, really letting Danny Elfman’s score sing out.
While I found Craig Sheffer rather wooden as the leading man Aaron Boone, I did enjoy Anne Bobby as Lori Winston. She was able to show a range of emotions, without being overly silly, and I really dug her singing performance early in the film. David Cronenberg as Dr. Decker is intriguing as the quiet doctor hiding his psychopathic side. And Doug Bradley, Pinhead himself, was great as Dirk Lylesberg, a citizen of Midian trying to find his way home when Boone stumbles upon him in a hospital.
While the film is not perfect, it is an enjoyable look at humanity, by setting us up against the cracked fun house mirror of Midian. It is up to us to make the decision about how we use our dark side, and pray that others choose wisely as well.