Thursday, October 3, 2019

Movie Review: "The Night Flier" (1997)

Director: Mark Pavia
Year: 1997
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 34 minutes

A tabloid reporter investigates a series of bizarre murders said to be committed by a pilot that no one has yet been able to catch.

Movie still for the horror film The Night Flier where Julie Entwisle scolds Miguel Ferrer for stealing her news story
"Never believe what's published, never publish what you believe." (Image Source)
Vampires using their powers to fly from victim to victim is typical in the horror genre, but usually, they're not traveling via plane. "The Night Flier" is feature film directorial debut of Mark Pavia, who would go one to direct one more feature, the 2016 low-budget horror flick "Fender Bender." He also helped write the screenplay with Jack O'Donnell, and it is based on the short story by famed author Stephen King. A series of bizarre murders have been taking place at airports across the country where the victims have been drained of their blood. The police have his name, Dwight Renfield, and his airplane number, but nobody has been able to catch him. When a young "Inside Edition" tabloid reporter named Katherine Blair (Julie Entwisle) starts to dig up some good leads that guarantee she'll make front-page news with her story, it gets taken from her and given to veteran reporter Richard Dees (Miguel Ferrer), who had turned it down earlier. Dees is the type of guy who really lives up to his name because he's is a big dick, that's for sure. Richard has his own plane, so he flies from crime scene to crime scene trying to track down the killer. As he digs deeper into this strange story and closes in on Renfield, Richard realizes for the first time that he may have bitten off more than he can chew with this story.
Dwight Renfield turns into a vampire in a movie still for the 1997 film Stephen King's The Night Flier
"Why do all the weird ones have to fly at night?" (Image Source)
We didn't expect much from "The Night Flier." This horror feature brings a slightly new take to the vampire lore and has a neo-noir feel to it. It's a mystery movie, but it's not a whodunit. We never once asked ourselves whether Dwight Renfield is a vampire or not, we just take it at face value because all of this information is clearly communicated early on. The story builds to something compelling, mysterious, and grotesque. Add in a proper setting, lots of fog, and a creepy vibe to enhance it, and you've got the recipe for one heck of a fantasy-horror. The character Richard Dees often records notes to himself about what he finds or what he wants to write about, which act as an almost-voice-over-narration for the story, and this serves to enhance the noir element. The movie is all about joining Dees on his journey as he explores crime scenes that take a toll on him psychologically. We watch him come across things that we, the audience, already know, and we get to see if he makes the right calls given the information he discovers. It will be difficult for some to get invested in following a guy like Richard Dees around because, as we mentioned above, he's such an unlikeable jerk to everybody around him. He is a complete and total cynic that has seen the worst life has to offer, which has made him jaded, numb, and unempathetic. He has little care for the victims he comes across during his investigation, and he is willing to do whatever it takes to create the most sensationalized story and photos possible, even if it means moving bodies, tampering with crime scenes, or desecrating graves to do it. We wonder if director Dan Gilroy watched "The Night Flier" before writing and directing "Nightcrawler" because the stuff Louis Bloom does in that film is eerily similar to what Dees does here. We think Mark Pavia and Jack O'Donnell do a splendid job making an intriguing commentary about what some journalists are willing to do to make the front page. Beyond the blood and guts and gore of Dwight Renfied's victims, this provoking commentary is one of the most compelling aspects of this film. Miguel Ferrer was the perfect choice to bring a character like Dees to life. Ferrer is a lifelong character actor with a penchant for playing aggressive people. It might sound like a slight, but he gives a damn fine performance.
"The Night Flier" (1997) horror movie still where Miguel Ferrer stands in the middle of an airport full of bodies with a vampire killer right behind him
When you give blood, the most you get is a cup of orange juice, but when you take blood, you get headlines." (Image Source)
"The Night Flier" might be a little slow-paced and a bit flawed, but we were drawn into its engaging story for its entire runtime. This isn't a Stephen King tale that gets a lot of attention, but it is still worth checking out.

My Rating: 7.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 7/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.0/10
RT Rating: 33%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

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