For Night Will Come


Reviewed by: James Gracey

For Night Will Come
"Philémon is a very sympathetic character, and Hammond brings a real sense of vulnerability to the role."

When they move to a quiet suburban neighbourhood, the Ferals appear to be a very normal family. However, they have a dark secret concerning their teenaged son Philémon, and as he begins to fall for his neighbour Camila, his thirst for human blood becomes harder to resist, threatening the family's well rehearsed cover.

The panic and upheaval of adolescence has been a thematic mainstay of the horror genre. From I Was A Teenage Werewolf, Carrie and The Company of Wolves, through Ginger Snaps, Teeth and Raw, horror cinema has exploited the feelings of dread and the fear of being different that so many teenagers harbour. From alarming physical changes to overwhelming feelings of loneliness and fear of rejection, adolescence has been a devil's playground for filmmakers to explore ideas of societal conformity, monstrosity and 'otherness'. Likewise, the pliability of the figure of the vampire means it has been used as a metaphor from everything from addiction and contagion, to Queerness and non-conformity. In For Night Will Come, director Céline Rouzet uses the figure of a young vampire coming of age and grappling with his identity, to explore ideas of sacrifice and the horror of growing up in a stiflingly conformative society.

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A documentary filmmaker, Rouzet's naturalistic approach grounds proceedings in the relatable, from the mundane suburban backdrop to her unobtrusive approach to depicting how the family deal with their situation on a practical level. There are moments of humour too, such as when the family attend a neighbourhood barbeque and try to act 'normal', all of which endear them to the viewer. Rouzet executes a slow burn approach, developing the characters with co-writer William Martin, establishing their plight and heightening tension as the story builds towards the cruel inevitability seemingly alluded to by the title.

From the opening scene it's established that Philémon (Mathias Legout Hammond) was born requiring blood for sustenance. Many years later the family lead a nomadic life, never settling anywhere for too long, but where they do settle, they provide a loving and safe environment for Philémon and his younger sister Lucie (Laly Mercier), who does not share his need for blood. It becomes apparent the tremendous sacrifice his parents have made, yet they never complain and the family appears happy. Parents Laurence (Élodie Bouchez) and Georges (Jean-Charles Clichet) try to keep everything as normal and routine for the family as possible, but they're constantly ready to drop everything and move again should they need to. Laurence works as a nurse in a blood bank and some of the most taut scenes feature her attempting to steal blood bags which she uses to feed Philémon via intravenous transfusion. When she is unable to obtain blood, she uses her own, putting a strain on her health.

For a time, the family evade suspicion but as Philémon begins to develop romantic feelings for his neighbour Camila (Céleste Brunnquell), his thirst for blood becomes more difficult to control. Philémon is a very sympathetic character, and Hammond brings a real sense of vulnerability to the role. He is a shy, unsure teenager who is too afraid to be himself around others, and he worries he will disappoint his family after the sacrifices they have made for him. Yet he remains hopeful that one day he will fit in somewhere and keeps a record of how long he can stand to be in the sun, trying each time to better the previous attempts. Much of the tension hinges on how long the family can keep up the pretence and during the taut third act, their horrified neighbours become a baying mob. Rouzet and Martin's screenplay is careful not to oversimplify matters though, and what emerges is a complex examination of a community torn apart by fear and ignorance, and a thoughtful meditation on the loneliness and uncertainties of adolescence.

Reviewed on: 18 Sep 2023
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The day they move into a new neighbourhood, the Feral family plans to look as normal and friendly as possible. But their son, Philemon, is no ordinary teenager. When he gets closer to his new neighbor, Camila, his thirst for blood grows and his difference becomes impossible to hide…

Director: Céline Rouzet

Writer: William Martin, Céline Rouzet

Starring: Mathias Legout Hammond, Élodie Bouchez, Jean-Charles Clichet, Céleste Brunnquell, Laly Mercier, Anne Benoît, Louis Peres, Angèle Metzger, Bakary Diombera, Véronique Frumy, Valérie Lemaitre

Year: 2023

Runtime: 104 minutes

Country: France, Belgium


Venice 2023

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