The job of night watchman must be pretty boring. I mean, unless you work somewhere pretty interesting, then the job must involve a hell of a lot of sitting on your bum whilst staring into the abyss and questioning your life choices. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. If you can get payed to sit around doing very little then I salute you. But what if that mundane routine came crashing down around you? Well, that’s pretty much the premise of The Night Watchmen, the hilarious new horror comedy from Mitchell Altieri.
When former musician Justin (Max Gray Wilbur) accepts a job as a night watchman at a Baltimore newspaper office, he quickly realizes that his new role will be one spent playing cars, talking shit, and watching porn on the security cameras with his new workmates – ex-Marine Ken (Ken Arnold), pot smoking “Black Jew” Jiggetts (Kevin Jiggetts), and mysterious Luca (Dan DeLuca). But, when a coffin containing the remains of recently deceased clown Blimpo, is accidentally delivered to the warehouse below the office, any plans for an easy night are thrown right out of the window.
You see, Blimpo had recently been touring Romania with his act, and alongside his entire troupe, had been killed under mysterious circumstances, before being shipped back to the US. Whatever those mysterious circumstances may have been, they’ve turned the national treasure of an entertainer into a blood sucking Vampire, and he’s now free to turn the newspaper staff into his undead minions of destruction.
The Night Watchmen clocks in at a sprightly 80 minutes, and as such never really has the time to slow the pace and develop the characters. We learn very little about Justin and his cohorts, except through the many one liners they spout throughout the film. Ordinarily, such lack of character development would be a bad thing, but there is enough of everything else – gore, laughs, nudity – to keep the film going without the need for a whole lot of exposition. Sure, you could stick an extra 10-20 minutes on the run time to fit this in, but if the film had been any longer it may have highlighted the movies flaws, so it was a much more sensible choice to make it short and sweet.
The decision to include vampire clowns here was an inspired one. Not only because the visual is enough to make a coulrophobe’s head explode, but also because it fits in nicely with the evil clown epidemic sweeping the globe following the release of It. Blimpo (Gary Peebles), is massive in stature and the scene in which he lures his fellow vampires to him by squeaking his creepy little horn, makes for a nightmare inducing visual. If anything though, the character should have been used more, his screen time is probably less than 10 minutes – but as an end of level boss he was still pretty impressive.
Let’s be clear, The Night Watchmen is not a groundbreaking movie. It is far from the Citizen Kane of horror comedies. The premise has been done before, with vampires loose in an office block being the focus of Bloodsucking Bastards in 2015. However, The Night Watchmen is one of the genres most fun offerings in years, and perhaps – considering its mega low budget – 2017’s biggest genre dark horse. Whether it’s remembered more as a bong hit than a smash hit though, remains to be seen.