Vampires are so hot right now, sometimes it’s hard to remember that they really belong to the horror genre. With Twilight bringing massive popularity to bloodsuckers on a scale never before seen, many horror fans are left out in the cold. This dichotomy is nothing new, though– the clash between the romantic and monstrous vampire types has been going on for ages. Still, when the vampire is in the spotlight as it is now, many horror fans long for something different. Fortunately, little films like Midnight Son come along and provide just that.
Jacob (Zak Kilberg) is a lonely security guard working overnight shifts and painting during his off hours. Jacob suffers from a rare skin disease that requires him to completely shun sunlight, his extensively scarred forearm a constant reminder of what happens when sunlight touches his skin. His paintings, almost exclusively of sunrises and sunsets, remind him of what he’s missing. As he approaches his twenty-fifth birthday, Jacob begins to develop symptoms of mysterious illness. A friendly Janitor (Tracey Walter) who works nights with Jacob suggests that because the body stops growing at twenty-five, Jacob is at the end of a process of transformation.
Jacob shrugs this off, but after meeting a woman named Mary (Maya Parish), he finds that his symptoms are becoming impossible to ignore. Worse, they’re complicating matters with Mary– Jacob has no idea what is happening to himself, and he’s worried it may be contagious. After a freak accident, Jacob finds some of his symptoms subside after he drinks blood. Soon, crosses paths with hospital worker Marcus (Jo D. Jonz), who catches Jacob trying to break into a biohazard dumpster. Marcus gives Jacob a packet of expired blood with the promise of more, but for a price. As Jacob becomes more desperate, his fate and the fates of the few people in his orbit become tightly entwined.
Midnight Son packs some big surprises, but it’s still very low-key, a claustrophobic story that focuses mostly on Jacob, his relationships, and his reaction to the inexplicable, impossible changes happening to his body. Jacob is in nearly every shot of the film, so it’s a good thing that Zak Kilberg gives an appropriately understated, sympathetic lead performance. Maya Parish is similarly great as Mary, powerfully attracted to Jacob but utterly uncertain of what she’s getting herself into. Finally, Jo D. Jonz effortlessly gives Marcus the right amount of amiability and danger, a very tricky balancing act. The film also looks and sounds great, and with the lead performances anchoring the story, Midnight Son is one of the best independent horror films (and certainly one the very best vampire films) to come along this year.
Image Entertainment released Midnight Son on DVD 17 July 2012. Special features include deleted scenes, cast & crew interviews, trailer, and full-length commentary with writer/director Scott Leberecht and stars Zak Kilbert, Maya Parish and Jo D. Jonz.