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‘Nightwatch: Demons Are Forever’ Review: Unnecessary And Predictable


The original Nightwatch (1994) was a pretty effective thriller about a college kid, Martin, who takes a job in a forensic department. While he’s working this job, he’s also playing an escalating game with an obnoxious friend, Jens, that leads to him getting entangled in the hunt for a serial killer.  While it took a moment to pull me in, and I had plenty of questions about the happy ending, I found myself engaged in the mystery. So, even though I don’t think it needed a sequel, I was eager to see what Nightwatch: Demons Are Forever was about.

Nightwatch: Demons Are Forever picks up nearly 30 years later and undoes the strangely upbeat ending of the first film. Martin (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) is a shell of a man consumed by grief and trauma. He lives with his daughter and refuses to address the past ordeal that drove his wife, Kalinka, to end her life. Emma (Fanny Leander Bornedal), is so desperate for answers that she follows in her father’s footsteps and takes a job in the same morgue he worked in. However, she soon discovers that the past isn’t as dead as she believed it was.

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Where its predecessor dawdled and took sidequests, Nightwatch: Demons Are Forever gets right to the nitty gritty. It doesn’t spend an endless amount of time on annoying hijinks here. We immediately start unpacking the generational trauma and spitting in the face of danger. Writer-director Ole Bornedal has definitely grown as a director since 1994. The scenes in this movie that actually work are a sight to behold. However, those moments are few as the script is generic and uneven. Part of the fun of Nightwatch was assuming we had all of the answers and then getting whiplash in the final act. This sequel has nothing up its sleeve, no matter how many times it tries to make you believe it has a surprise or two in store.

One of the things Nightwatch: Demons Are Forever does right is give women characters more to do. I was concerned when I realized neither of the women from the original cast returned for this film. Because the character Kalinka (Sofie Gråbøl) died by suicide, I was hoping to see Lotte Andersen return as Lotte. However, the role was recast, and she was given little screen time. Regardless, it was a joy to follow Emma this time as she gets to the bottom of what happened to her parents that fateful night but inadvertently reopens this deadly wound.

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It doesn’t just stop with Emma either. This story is populated by women in key roles which is a complete shift from the original film and a very welcome change. The stock roles of detective, doctor, and best friend are now delegated to Paprika Steen, Sonja Richter, and Nina Terese Rask, respectively. Nightwatch only gave women the roles of girlfriends who would put up with anything, or sex workers, or corpses. Nightwatch: Demons Are Forever includes them in the list of suspects. This should have added layers and created distractions from the only logical suspect in this story.

The “bad guy” basically announcing themselves with their first few lines of dialogue is my biggest issue. However, many of the kills are anticlimactic. We remove some legacy characters, but there isn’t even any razzle-dazzle for those deaths. We also see each murder coming from miles away, which is a shame. The surviving characters seem to move on quickly from losing former loved ones, too. So, the important deaths aren’t given much weight. Also, no one seems to care they are in danger until they go face-to-face with the perpetrator. They briefly acknowledge when someone dies, and they talk about the night Martin, Kalinka, and Jens almost died. However, everyone acts like it’s just another Tuesday. You would think with three decades of trauma, someone might at least pick up some mace or something. 

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Nightwatch: Demons Are Forever is predictable fun that never quite reaches the same heights of mystery and tension as the first film. While Bornedal admittedly does a slightly better job when it comes to grounding a couple of characters in this outing, there are still way too many that are woefully underdeveloped. It’s frustrating watching actors try to infuse caricatures with depth. 

Jens (Kim Bodnia) never grew up, even after surviving that harrowing experience. He divorced his wife, Lotte, and ran off to Thailand. He only returns when a copycat killer hits too close to home. This sadly leaves Bodnia still playing the guy with Peter Pan syndrome who still can’t take anything seriously. Jens only gets one real moment to reveal that the night he almost died thirty years ago might still haunt him a bit. The film sticks Coster-Waldau with one note to play, albeit, a different one than the first film. He’s just the sad guy who refuses to answer his daughter’s questions. I wanted more depth for both of them this time out. Sadly, neither of them got to show what they’re capable of.

I can’t say Nightwatch: Demons Are Forever is a great movie. I feel it takes a few steps forward from its predecessor in certain areas. However, it adds nothing to its world other than adding a generational trauma lens. The few tense scenes that made me lean forward felt like breaths of fresh air in a stuffy room. If you don’t want to think too much, this is a fine enough movie. I highly recommend watching Nightwatch first because it’ll help you see where this film takes steps forward and backward. It’s also just a better movie. 

Nightwatch and Nightwatch: Demons Are Forever will both be available to stream on Shudder starting May 17, 2024. 

  • Nightwatch: Demons Are Forever


Nightwatch: Demons Are Forever is not a great movie, and never reaches the heights of the original film. However, it is predictable fun if you’re looking for something to do.



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