Nightwatch: Demons Are Forever Review | Like Daughter, Like Father

by Andrew Parker

Nightwatch: Demons Are Forever is an unnecessary, but worthy follow up to one of the most slept on suspense thrillers of the 1990s. Coming thirty years after the original (and twenty-seven years after the ill fated, Weinstein ruined Hollywood remake), Danish writer-director Ole Bornedal returns to the literal scene of the crime, brings back some familiar faces, and updates his original plot line just enough to have some degree of timeliness and relevance. Nightwatch: Demons Are Forever is mostly reminiscent of other films that have come before it, but in terms of mounting suspense and crafting unnerving entertainment value, Bornedal succeeds admirably.

Following the death of her mother by suicide, medical forensics student Emma (Ole’s daughter, Fanny Leander Bornedal) starts digging into her family’s past. Her father, Martin (returning star Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), is a pill popping emotional wreck, not just because of his wife’s death, but because of lingering PTSD he suffered at the hands of serial killer who tried to frame him for murder while he was working as nightwatchman at a medical examiners office to pay his way through law school. Wanting to learn more about her family history, Emma not only takes Martin’s old job in the same building as before, but she also pays a covert visit to the killer that tormented her parents. While the original culprit is locked away for good and blind to boot, a pair of copycat killers have taken their place and are targeting Emma’s family for another round of torture, torment, and death.

Nightwatch: Demons Are Forever gets off to a stylish, but slow start. It’s almost understandable. Since so much time has passed since the critically acclaimed original, Bornedal (The Possession, The Bombardment) is keen to rehash events, spell things out, and offer up a lot of homages to his original, re-staging some scenes almost beat for beat in a bid to align things in a fussy way. Despite having a more female centred narrative this time out – something that takes away a bit of the original’s sleaze factor – there’s an initial fear that Nightwatch: Demons Are Forever will be more of a lazy re-tread than a proper sequel.

Those fears are put to rest about thirty minutes in, when Bornedal takes the thematic and stylish bones of the original and starts carving a new, bloody path. It’s a path indebted to the likes of Silence of the Lambs and the Scream franchise, but that doesn’t make the pivot any less effective or unnerving. Bornedal’s latest also fits in nicely with the recent crop of films centred around deep rooted traumas. Without giving too much away about the first instalment – which is also being re-released concurrently onto streaming at the same time after decades of sparse availability in North America – this sequel stays true to the original, at times to a fault. Whenever Nightwatch: Demons Are Forever looks like it’s about to try something new, Bornedal will remount the same plot twists he trotted out the first time around.

It’s a testament to Bornedal’s talents as a stylish director of thrillers and his daughter’s ability to create a likeable, sympathetic, and misguided lead character that Nightwatch: Demons Are Forever remains compulsively watchable. And although it dances close to the line many times than it should, Bornedal’s film doesn’t feel like a lazy, cash-grabbing, band reforming rehash of what came before. Fans who enjoyed the original will likely gravitate towards this one pretty naturally, especially given how much time has passed between instalments. Everyone else would be advised to get caught up before diving right in.

Nightwatch: Demons Are Forever and the original 1994 Nightwatch are streaming on Shudder starting Friday, May 17, 2024.

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