The Night Watchmen (2017) [Fantasia International Film Festival 2017]

Coulrophobics look out, “The Night Watchmen” is easily your worst nightmare come true, but it’s also one of the best horror comedies I’ve seen in a while. Director Mitchell Altieri delivers one of hell of a great horror gore fest that imagines the world overrun by vampire zombie clowns. “The Night Watchmen” is set primarily in an office, and Altieri makes great use of it, picturing the night shift from hell. You could make a sub-genre out of horror movies set in an office work place, these days, but “The Night Watchmen” has a great time making use of the back drop, with the various halls and corners of the office, and the typically monotonous setting.

Set on the night shift of a newspaper building, night watchmen Jiggetts and Ken are interviewing new security guard trainee and ex-rocker Rajeeve on his duties. Promising to be a dull night, things take a turn when two inept couriers deliver the body of a world famous clown to the wrong building; both succeed in convincing the manager to store it over night. The body in the coffin is that of Blimpo the Clown a world famous entertainer who was stricken with a mysterious disease while entertaining in Romania and died. Before long, Blimpo has risen from his coffin and is hungry for blood. With a building filled with office drones, he slinks around creating his own army of the undead.

With the entire building now filled with blood thirsty zombie vampires, it’s up to the three night watchmen, their trainee, and one surviving secretary named Karen to fend them off until the daylight and find a way out. Little to do they know outside, the city is being ravaged by a zombie vampire apocalypse. Mitchell Altieri has a bonafide horror comedy gem, creating a film that promises to become a midnight classic. Stuffed with a great eighties synth score and a wealth of excellent gore, and moments of genuine fright, “The Night Watchmen” mixes a lot of the best elements of survival horror in one great package. It also helps that despite the primary villain being a blood thirsty clown (Gary Peebles is great), Altieri never over plays the joke, allowing the monster brief but very creepy appearances.

The primary focus is on the blue collared heroes doing what they can to survive, and Altieri along with writers Dan DeLuca and Sam Nash are able to derive some great moments of comedic tension with these characters. Despite they being the most unlikely heroes, the cast do a bang up job portraying them as people completely out of their element, but who fight tooth and nail to survive at every turn. Everyone from Sam DeLuca, Kara Luiz, and Ken Arnold are top notch. All the while there are fun walk on appearances by Tiffany Shepis, and James Remar, respectively. Director Altieri is even a fan of twisting conventions, with some fun meta comedic moments, including a scene involving marijuana, and African American guard Jiggetts’ efforts to be taken seriously among his comrades.

There’s even an added gag involving passing gas that surprisingly didn’t get old. “The Night Watchmen” is a fun and briskly paced horror survival comedy that mixes genres, and tropes. Altieri has a great time splashing blood, guts, and bile on the screen, while also creating a unique movie monster in the process. I hope we can see more from Mitchell Altieri very soon.

Fantasia International Film Festival runs from July 13th to August 2nd.