If nothing else, kudos are due to the creators of “Nightworld” for casting Jason London and Robert Englund in the leads.
If only Michael York had been available.
It’s a moody, nightmarish story of night watchman work in a mysterious building in Sofia, Bulgaria. There are hints of a “Twilight Zone” of long ago, of Mummy movies and tales of gateways, portals and what not.
All it lacks are frights.
London, best known for “Dazed and Confused” at the beginning of his career 25 years ago, plays Brett, a retired-youngish LA cop mourning his late wife and the life they shared in Varna. Bloody visions of his wife Ana (Diana Lyubenova) haunt his dreams.
A pal has just the thing for that — a night watchman job in Sofia. The ornate Zaharian Building has four apartments on three floors, a troubled history, mysterious, unknown owners, unseen tenants and seriously squirrelly managers (Gianni Capaldi, Nikolay Valentinov Lukanov) who give him cryptic “cloak and dagger” instructions about the work.
The job is mainly in the basement. Check the CCTV monitors, be sure this gigantic, ornate and oddly decorated door does not open. See “anything unusual,” call it in.
“When was the last time something came up?”
It takes 30 minutes of screen time for that to change. That gives Brett time to puzzle over the job and take up with the cute coed barista (Lorina Kamburova). A retiree and a coed — how Eastern European.
Brett’s nightmares continue once he’s moved into the Zaharian — go figure. Now they’re gory mid-intercourse hallucinations, visions of long-dead twins and the like.
Then the cameras catch motion in the vast underground vault everyone calls “The Hangar.”
“I never go in there?”
The expert on-call comes running. But Jacob (Englund, of Freddy Krueger fame) is blind, and has to interpret the tape by description. Not to worry, he knows his business.
“We are running out of time. I think it has started.”
The mystery isn’t enough to hang this picture on, and unraveling it with a few dope-slap special effects doesn’t improve the scary movie-going experience.
We know Brett, and maybe Jacob and Zara and others, will have to go where no one ever is allowed to go, and we have a pretty good idea of what we’re going to see when we do.
Englund’s an old pro, but never developed range, and sadder still, neither did London. Flat performances lower the stakes and rob the picture of any sense of impending doom.
Covering such well-worn horror territory requires novel touches, fresh sources of fear, committed-to-the-terror performances, but above all a dread that “Nightworld” never manages.
MPAA Rating: TV-MA
Cast: Jason London, Robert Englund, Lorina Kamburova, Gianni Capaldi, Diana Lyubenova
Credits:Directed by Patricio Valladares , script by Barry Keating, Milan Konjevic and Dimitar Hristov. A Gravitas Ventures release.