Nightwatch: Demons Are Forever

Fanny Bornedal and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau in “Nightwatch: Demons Are Forever.”

Thrills are in short supply in bloody ‘Nightwatch’

There is a plethora of corpses filling the morgue at the center of Ole Bornedal’s “Nightwatch: Demons Are Forever,” but none of them are as dead as this blood-drenched number, now in its third incarnation in 30 years.

It began in 1994 with the original “Nightwatch,” a hit with horror fans in Bornedal’s native Denmark, but never deemed worthy of a U.S. release – until 1997, when it was remade in English with Ewan McGregor in the lead. That one also failed to catch fire domestically, but that didn’t deter Bornedal, which is why, 27 years later, we’re subjected to “Nightwatch” 3.0.

Possibly the worst of the bunch, it’s part sequel, part retread of the original, a sordid tale about a Copenhagen med student – and his friends – getting mixed up with a serial killer while working the overnight shift in a facility housing the university’s cadavers. Spooky, right? Especially when they turn down the lights during the wee hours to preserve juice.

Apparently, the conservation effort caught on with the updated cast, most of whom seemingly swore an oath to the low-energy credo. Chief among them is Bornedal’s daughter, Fanny, who stars as Emma, a 22-year-old med student determined to rid her father, Martin (“Game of Thrones” hunk Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), of the PTSD he developed after the killer targeted him and Emma’s now-deceased mother while doing the same stint in the same cold storage.

Emma enjoys doing Dad’s old gig. Not only does it afford a quiet place to study (and dance with abandon down the empty halls) it also serves as her incentive to exact vengeance on Inspector Peter Wörmer (Ulf Pilgaard), the crazed ex-cop who 30 years ago – spoiler alert – was revealed to be the man behind the gruesome demise of several sex workers. Nowadays, the hair-fetish freak (he scalps his victims) resides in an insane asylum where he’s implausibly been presented with his own wing. Blind, reclusive and “passive,” Wörmer spends his waking hours in the dark listening to classic rock tunes.

Emma, natch, upends his relatively peaceful existence the day she enters the institution under false pretenses and heads straight for Wörmer’s dingy digs. She reawakens his murder lust, sparking another citywide killing spree. No doubt Wörmer is behind it, but who’s doing his bidding? We’re introduced to several creepy suspects, the guilty party revealed in the laughably ridiculous finale.

Through it all, the elder Bornedal bombards us with an array of throat-slashings, scalpings, self-mutilation and a bizarre evening excursion on which Martin and his oldest pal, Jens (Kim Bodnia, also back from the original), sneak into an indoor soccer stadium to kick a few balls into the nets. It’s an inconsequential scene that only adds to an already exceedingly long flick that’s a challenge to take seriously.

Emma’s friends spend a lot of time talking about shagging when they’re not caught up in her eye-for-an-eye revenge tour. Like everyone in this cockeyed enterprise, they are completely devoid of depth, humanity, or purpose; simply fodder for the increasingly bloody feeding frenzy. If there’s a moral, I don’t see it. And you don’t need to see it, either – unless you’re seeking a cure for insomnia. Night, night!

Movie review

Nightwatch: Demons Are Forever

Rated: R for violence and sexual content

Cast: Fanny Bornedal, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Ulf Pilgaard, Kim Bodnia and Nina Terese Rask

Director: Ole Bornedal

Writer: Ole Bornedal

Runtime: 113 minutes

Where: Now streaming on Shudder

Grade: C

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