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FILM REVIEW: Nightwatch Demons Are Forever (2023)

Updated: May 16

Nightwatch: Demons are Forever - New Release Review

Director: Ole Bornedal

Starring: Fanny Leander Bornedal, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Casper Kjær Jensen, Ulf Pilgaard, Sonja Richter

Written by: Ole Bornedal

Produced by: Thomas Heinesen

Cinematography by: Lasse Frank Johannessen

Original Score by: Ceiri Torjussen


Emma takes up a night watch job to find out what happened to her parents almost thirty years ago. But a meeting with serial killer Wörmer in his cell pulls him out of his coma and sets in motion a chain of fateful events.

Nightwatch: Demons Are Forever Film Review


Danish filmmaker Ole Bornedal returns for a sequel to one of his most famous films 30 years later and surprisingly, for the most part, it works. A slow paced thriller that has shocking kills and some really intense moments.

I suppose the first thing I need to address in this review is whether or not you need to have seen the original 'Nightwatch' film from 30 years ago to understand anything that is going on in this sequel and the short answer is no. The film does a great job at various points of giving us a summary of the events that happened in the 1994 film, which ironically and sadly does end up stuttering the momentum sometimes. Having seen the original will help of course, in terms of the characters, some of who are returning like Martin (Coster-Waldau) Wörmer (Ulf Pilgaard) and Jens (Kim Bodnia) but you'll get the jist very quickly.

The old cast are joined by new face Fanny Leander Bornedal (the directors daughter), who plays Martin's daughter Emma. An intelligent young medical student who ends up coming across newspaper clippings of the incident involving her parents and Wörmer, the detective turned serial killer. Having no knowledge of anything that happened in her Father's past, Emma begins to do a bit of digging herself and unintentionally opens up a can of worms to a horrifying end.

30 years is a long time and a lot has changed since the end of the first film. Emma's Mother committed suicide a few years prior and Martin has turned to pills to get him through the day. It's clear that he is still reeling from his past trauma and Emma takes it upon herself to try to fix him and she thinks that if he can properly move on from the Wörmer incident then he might still have something to live for. Her first step is taking the nightwatch job at the forensics lab, the same job Martin almost lost his life doing back in 1994, as a way for her to perhaps learn and understand more about the original incident without having to bring it up with him. Her second task is to visit Wörmer, who she believed was dead but is actually now blinded and in a coma state at a nearby psychiatric hospital. She films him and spits on his face, in an attempt to prove to her Father that he isn't worth thinking about anymore.

Fanny Leander Bornedal in Nightwatch: Demons Are Forever

Unfortunately, as pathetic and reclusive as Wörmer is now, Emma's instinctual actions lights a fire under the serial killer and we soon learn that he has taken on an apprentice in fellow patient Bent (Casper Kjær Jensen) who helps set an escape plan in motion for the duo in order to take down Martin for good and in turn anybody that is close to him.

In the role as lead protaganist Emma, Fanny Leander Bornedal is fantastic at conveying shock and horror and bringing the correct amount of emotion needed during the tougher scenes. Casper Kjær Jensen is the other stand-out, who as Wörmer's new student and copycat killer, is suitably deranged and quite terrifying at times. We don't neccesarily get alot of information about his backstory but that adds to the ambiguous intrigue of his frenzied character. The story is led in a way for us to believe that Bent could potentially be the son of Wörmer, but of course there is a twist.

Casper Kjær Jensen in Nightwatch: Demons Are Forever

'Nightwatch: Demons Are Forever' plays out like a classic slasher film not far removed from John Carpenter's 'Halloween'. It doesn't quite live up to the style of Carpenter (very few rarely do) but it is really well shot and I'm certain the mask that's used is an ode to Michael Myers. The Danish are very good at delivering grim, murder mysteries (as are all the Nordic regions) and this one is no different. The two major locations; the psychiatric hospital and the forensic wing, are super creepy and I only wish that we would've seen more of the latter as part of the slasher chase element in the third act. One thing I wasn't a fan of was the music choices early on shortly after Emma's induction. There's a sequence where she dances to the music she is listening to on her headphones. It's a short collage of scenes but I hated it. It felt really out of place but I do understand that perhaps that's the exact reason why it was included because Emma herself felt out of place being in this position as the night watch person in such an ominous establishment which, as the head security woman admits "has an evil atmosphere".

There's definitely a 'The Silence of the Lambs' vibe as we closed out the first act but it's quite impossible to watch any scene featuring a female visiting a dangerous, unhinged killer at a psychiatric facility without thinking of Clarice Starling and Hannibal Lector. The particular scenes here that I'm referencing doesn't quite have the same tense set-up but it plays out in a more terrifying way.

Fanny Leander Bornedal in Nightwatch: Demons Are Forever

The support cast all have their moments, with Emma's group of friends bringing some unexpected humour but the real shining light is the tension created towards the end and the shocking revelation including a red herring which wasn't as subtle as Bornedal probably wanted it to be.

'Nightwatch: Demons Are Forever' isn't flawless. It has some slow, dragging sequences and the constant reminders to the first film might get a bit annoying to some. And there's a scene where Bent manages to escape in a crowd by disguising himself in a crimson mask of his own blood which is difficult to believe would work, but overall it delivers on tension and has at least one shocking kill. Not quite a jump scare but a shock nonetheless.

Verdict: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

-Gavin Logan

'Nightwatch: Demons Are Forever' is available to stream on Shudder from May 17th

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