Nyctophobia has always been a rather prevalent condition for humans: the fear of darkness and night is understandable because people need safety before anything else, and when everything is surrounded in pitch-black darkness, the danger is harder to spot. Anyways, that would be nyctophobia, but in this case, we’re talking about nyctophilia, which is its exact opposite: the preference for night or darkness. Naturally, the first pre-conception that ran through my mind was centered upon vampires, but I was happy to discover, as I was watching, that this was not the case. However, ‘Nyctophilia’ stays true to its name – it is a dark and somber piece that will definitely not leave anyone smiling.
The non-chronological narrative on display here opens with two long monologues, immediately giving the film a soft, neo-noir feeling. ‘Nyctophilia’ occasionally comes back to this recurrent theme and sends its deepest messages through voice-overs discussing life and death, the promise of love and the circular nature of expectation. These are very well redacted moments, the softness and tender tone of the voices mixing well with the somber music and thus instilling a sense of longing, albeit an uneasy one at that.
The main plot revolves around a young man called Amos, who has presumably completed a terrible deed. Despite having the perfect life on a surface-level exploration of his character – lots of money, expensive cars, and houses, a beautiful wife – Amos is accused of murdering his partner. Naturally, his money can buy the services of the best lawyer around, and yet, the young man does not seek his own salvation and instead admits to the guilty charges placed upon him, without any other deliberation.
‘Nyctophilia’ plays out as a dark exploratory project of the most hidden depths of one’s character and personality, and creates a very appropriate atmosphere for this context. Most of the scenes are set in nocturnal environments, and both the cinematography and the editing style confer significant added value to the prevalent sense of unease which characterizes this film, making it a truly haunting visual experience.
Most problems which are identified fall under the audio category. First, while the music selection is very good indeed, I would not see it necessary either for it to always accompany the on-screen events, nor to be so loud, since at times it obscures speech and makes it difficult to comprehend. The dialogue itself is not very clearly delivered either, independent of the score – subtitles would thus be a welcome addition.
The acting could be better as well – while the voice over bits are wonderfully delivered, the acting game itself is inconsistent, continuously balancing between adequate, unconvincing and overacting. On-screen characters are also a bit too stiff with their movements, and while this is largely okay given the circumstances and static, meditative mood of the film, it still makes everything feel slightly unnatural.
Despite its minuses, ‘Nyctophilia’ gets a lot of things right, chiefly the manner it gradually builds its special allure. The plot is a bit incoherent, and on top of that, technical difficulties might get in the way of the message, but all in all, the film by Bahadir Karasu is a solid project which clearly points towards a bright future for the young filmmaker.