At the final level, every object or idea in our world becomes reduced to a single line said in passing between people. This usually consists of a quality assessment plus a scope, such as, “The FIAT 500 is a great car for driving between your garage and a repair shop.”
If we were to do this for Nightworld, a movie featuring the charismatic Robert Englund of Freddy Krueger fame, our summary would be, “It is a good first chapter for a horror novel.” Ultimately, this movie seems designed to be the first in a series because not enough occurs, the characters are ingenues who do not become more interesting over time, and yet, a potent mythos is set up.
The film begins with Brett Anderson (Jason London) lounging around his house in Varna, Bulgaria, haunted by dreams of his late Bulgarian wife. Anderson has retired from the LAPD after a traumatic gunfight, and then spent three years with Anna, who promptly died or committed suicide; the movie never makes this clear, or maybe I slept through that part.
Deciding to put his life back on track, he takes a job in Sofia as a glorified security guard in an ancient mansion. In this really lovely building, he confronts a maze of technology monitoring a supernatural presence, and must consult with the blind and aging Jacob (Robert Englund) to make sense of it all.
This movie is so mile-wide-inch-deep that to say any more will pretty much spoil the thing, so let this be said: it is an “atmospheric” movie, which means lots of slow scenes and human interest leading up to a final conclusion in which there is sudden, not really logically consistent action. In other words, a slow build up to a sudden explosion, sort of like a premature ejaculation.
Unfortunately, the atmosphere is mostly boring because it requires these relatively high powered actors to act stupid and useless for eighty minutes, and then to be adventure movie action heroes for ten minutes, then spent two minutes looking shocked as the plot concludes. Expect sudden onset sleep attacks.
The sets are beautiful, the acting really very good for the top four characters and sort of adequate for everyone else, and the characters reasonably compelling albeit one-dimensional with absent clarity for their motivations. The supernatural presence is strikingly realistic and interesting. But the movie simply does not deliver.
Since no one involved seems to be incompetent, my guess is that this, indeed, is a first chapter. They wanted to establish a world in which they can sell video games based on supernatural zombies, or the dead not come back to life but crossing over from a dualistic “Nightworld,” and they intend to make a dozen movies on this topic.
That being said, no review can be meaningful. This first chapter introduces an interesting world. Not enough happens to do more than read the movie summary, but the movie is not poorly-executed, just low in content, which forces its characters to be hollow and their motivations vapid.