A blurr of lights focus to a cityscape, a black-gloved hand slides across a metal railing, and a wanted poster features a sketch and photo of a dark-haired beauty. Emerging from the night is the female of fatal pulchritude herself–a sleek, ivory-skinned siren, in a floor-length trench coat and skin-tight leather. Her chance (or perhaps planned) encounter with a man on the street sparks a fight thirty-five seconds in, for fast action in a short film. Fangs bared with a hiss warn her adversary, telliing us as quickly, if we don’t know already, that the woman is a vampire. Seize the Night (a sci-fi/horror short film, directed by Emma Dark), in the first few minutes of its twelve-minute running time, sets a brooding, ominous tone, in a place where goth, danger, and death are, with a twist on words,”all in a night’s work”–yet, with style, exciting, intriguing, and alluring no less! Of course!
Seize the Night also stars model and actress, Emma Dark, in the lead role as the wanted vampire, Eva Harker–yes, maybe or maybe not Mina Harker by another surname. A former assassin, she’s now a renegade, escaped from a bioreasearch facility, hunted by her ex-coven. Looking for weapons, she is out to help no one but herself. New threats to the world at large–via a genetically-engineered virus–force Eva to think larger and otherwise. With a cause beyond herself and revenge as a bonus, she considers it all. Perhaps, now, even allying with “dogs” (another term for werewolves here) is acceptable. “Before I was caged by humans, I killed for money; now I just kill,” Eva says. Indeed she does…as an ass kicker to kick all assess! Can a gratuitous killer become a heroine for her kind–a champion for covens and werewolves everywhere, if not humanity?
The setting for Seize the Night is the streets and industrial buildings of London, England. The time period is unknown, although it looks modern to semi-futuristic; current styles of guns in use, with gothic styles too pervasive for the present make us feel that we are, at least, not in a familiar place on Earth. Beautifully filmed in black and white with a hint of blue, skin tones are cold and well emphasized, contrasted artistically against black, vampiric attire. Splashes of sepia-toned color highlight Eva’s past, as flashbacks of painful memories. Lack of color keeps viewer focus on simple, but more important, black and white contrasts throughout–especially clothing, faces…and fangs!
Before I go any further, I must also mention the music in Seize the Night. It is awesomely produced by Eric Elick. With his score, a short film is given a big movie impact, as soon as it begins, from its opening titles, to it’s explosive ending. Music is one of the most important elements in any film, and Emma Dark certainly pulls out all the stops with Elick on board!
Also making an obvious difference in the movie’s style and force are the contributions of Roy Scammell as fight coordinator. Scammell is best known for his work in Alien (1979) and Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange (1971). Since fight scenes were an integral part of Seize the Night, less professionalism, from someone (if not Scammell), might have kicked the movie’s butt, rather that those of the villains. It would be like making a Bloody Mary, without the tomato juice. Fortunately, that didn’t happen.
Obviously, Seize the NIght has been compared to such movies as those in the Underworld and Blade series. Gothic, gun-toting vampires, leatherclad and bound to covens, fighting werewolves, have been all the rage since the late 90s–and Underworld continues even now. So, yes, the similarities and influences are strong and easy to see. Easily, Seize the Night could have been dead on arrival, lost in everything else like it, dismissed as a wannabe of things already done. Yes! It could have been, only if not seen for its true distinction and potential as a larger story. With all of its energy, mysterious back (and forward) story, style, and yes, I must say, with its captivating lead, it does more than survive; it thrives…like a freshly fed vampire! (And what a great analogy!)
Punctuated with stylized action fit for Hong Kong, it’s hard to find a dull moment in Seize the Night. Sporting a Lara Croft-stye-HK gun, boots (yes, they’re black too), aforementioned beauty, and a British accent that oozes sexy, Eva dominates, owning scenes even without action, with only her presence. Yes! I guess you’re getting the message by now, loud and clear. However, it bears repeating, finally, just as it recurs as a force to make the movie most effective. By design, Seize the Night is a an opulent show of eye candy for horror lovers, taken to higher levels with a story beyond what we see in its brief twelve minutes–a rich mythos with a past and future we want to know, after the credits roll. Like a hungry vampire, Seize the Night leaves us craving more! (There! Another great analogy!)
Does Seize the Night have problems? As I say with most movies–ninety-nine percent of them, at least–yes. In some cases, dialogue could have been richer, with more substance, delivered with more commitment. Short films typically begin in the middle of something, as the leanest of slices-of-life stories, needing most efficient ways to give information to the audience. With such brevity and implied complexity, time is never more “of the essence.” However again, provided that Seize the Night becomes a bigger story, at least delivered in installments, as a series, perhaps, we have a solution to the largest of the films’ problems. In the meantime, let’s keep our fingers crossed…and our fangs hidden.
Will we get the whole story? Hopefully so! It would be ashamed if this is all we ever see. The twelve-minute running time condenses, as evidenced in time stamps on the screen, a 13 hour period between 6:15 p.m. and 7:03 a.m. The movie is really more of a sample to pitch at studios for a feature–one that happens to work, with so many teasing mysteries it creates. Yes! There is so much more here, before and after! Who is Eva? Is she really Eva Harker from Stoker lore, and how is she still alive? What experiments were performed on Eva in the bioresearch facility, and why? Was it human research to find a virus to kill vampires…and werewolves too? How did she escape? With enough propinquity and isolation, can vampires again fall in love with werewolves? Who is responsible for the film’s explosive ending, and what will be left of London…and the world? With vengeful vampires and werewolves on the loose, does humanity have a chance? Only Emma Dark knows!
Regardless of what anyone thinks of Seize the Night, as a small piece of an epic story, there is no denying Dark’s creative force, energy, and impact. She is a director to watch with great expectations, with Seize the Night being only a piece of her potential. Yes! Dark is a director with passion for the genre and a vision to get things done, all the more because she loves it. In an interview with her, on In the Process, Dark says that her biggest learning curve in her first film, Seize the Night, was learning about “time and money.” If she was to it do all over again, she says “I’d have more budget, to secure [more] time and location.” Dark says that, although she had less money than what was needed, and had to make compromises, she’s really happy with the end result. I am too! Seize the Night, even with its low budget limitations, may be just the calling card that brings in the money for the rest of the story…realizing Dark’s vision, finally, without compromise. I certainly hope so! “If you’re really passionate about something, you’ll do it until it’s right,” says Dark. I agree a hundred percent. She will!
Seize the Night also stars Carey Thring as Tobias, Anthony Ilott as Dante, Paul Ewen as Joe, Paul Ewen as Rana, Chris Hampshire as Mikkel, Mark Sears as Operative 5, Merlyn Roberts as Jacy, and Joel Brown as the Werewolf Elder. It is written, directed, and edited by Emma Dark, with the screenplay by Richard Humphries, and awesome music by Eric Elick. (Yes! I’d actually buy the soundtrack for this one!)
For your viewing pleasure, and for your own consideration, the trailer, followed by the full-length movie is below! Trust us! Blood sucking is the least of what will dominate your mind here! Next, is the In the Process interview with Emma Dark, revealing her thoughts and experiences with Sieze the Night…and much more (including her vibrant personality)! Among other things, in the show’s random question game called 60 Seconds, we learn that Dark’s “favorite household objects” are her coffins! Wow! Emma is certainly our kind of girl! 🙂
Mission Control at SJR easily launches a 8 rockets for Seize the Night!