Nightwatch 1997 Movie Scene Ewan McGregor as Martin turning on the lights in the room with all the dead bodies, the morgue

Nightwatch [1997]

Imagine working a nightshift inside a working morgue and hearing strange sounds coming from the dark. If you’re having trouble with this image, Nightwatch is here to help. This is actually a remake of the Danish thriller Nattevagten, and it’s not too shabby. Both movies are directed and written by the same guy Ole Bornedal so they share a lot of similarities. And while the original is much more visceral and intense, the remake boasts better production values and a superb cast.

We’ve got Ewen McGregor, grizzled Nick Nolte, and very young Josh Brolin, what more to want. Perhaps Patricia Arquette but we got her too along with a stellar supporting cast, so there’s really nothing to complain about. At least when it comes to the cast. Nightwatch is an effective little blend of horror and thrills that could’ve been much better. A couple of subplots go nowhere and there are several plot holes in the main story. However, if you’re looking to be mildly entertained for ninety minutes, this movie will do just fine.

On a personal note, if you have ever worked as a night watchman (about nine months of that experience) you know that feeling when your senses are unable to process the full extent of reality. Then, everything might happen, but usually, nothing happens. Also, just watching people with that occupation is strangely satisfying. You feel like they’re in prison but they actually feel free to think, roam or do whatever they want as they’re working.

A young law student takes up a night watchman job in order to get more money. The only thing is that the job is in a medical examiner’s office. But soon he will discover that maybe he does not need the money that bad. A serial killer that kills prostitutes is on the loose and the police are having trouble connecting the dots. Who is the killer and who will survive is up to you to find out.

Nightwatch features a lot of creepy scenes although the director didn’t use the full potential of such a frightening environment. However, I do have to admit that those first nights were quite immersive and very relatable. I’m sure that almost all of us would react the same way our young protagonist did. And definitely not like that previous security guard. Also, the mystery enveloping the quest for the identity of the killer is very intriguing, so you will suspect everyone.

All of this makes it very similar to a string of commercial who-done-it slashers that came out around the same time. You know the movies I’m talking about, they usually feature a group of friends and one twisted serial killer. Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer are the best examples. Finally, if you’re looking for movies like Nightwatch, I recommend you check out The Possession of Hannah Grace and The Corpse of Anna Fritz. Both of them are set in morgues for that extra creepy atmosphere. 

Director: Ole Bornedal

Writers: Ole Bornedal, Steven Soderbergh

Cast: Ewan McGregor, Patricia Arquette, Josh Brolin, Lauren Graham, Nick Nolte, Brad Dourif

Fun Stuff: The black and white picture of the guy on death row in the cabin is the same one from the original version of this movie Nattevagten.


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