Given how Near Dark is considered one of the best vampire films ever made, one may be shocked at how few individuals have seen the masterpiece. It is difficult to argue that that 80's was one of the better time periods for cinematic bloodsuckers. With films such as The Lost Boys, The Hunger, and Near Dark in theaters, it was truly a golden age for Dracula's children of the night. Kathryn Bigelow's presentation of her moody examination of white-trash vampires is very intriguing. Near Dark in and of itself shows an interesting dichotomy in terms of its genre, or genres: part western, part vampire flick (albeit never once is the word “vampire” even used or mentioned in the film throughout its duration itself), and part film.
Those three elements merged to create the ultimate cult classic. There are many reasons as to why Near Dark has earned such a reputation over the years – it's well-written, the cast is magnificent, and in fact the best element of this film; you could not have a more perfect cast than this one. Bigelow's directing also is one of a kind. It's almost like you wouldn't know that the person who directed this is also responsible for the multiple award winning war movie, The Hurt Locker (2008).
As the young Caleb, Adrian Pasdar works extremely well and one can be left wondering that he never really truly got the credit he deserved as an actor; even with his success in the television show Heroes (2006) prior to its cancellation, an individual may ponder why he did not suddenly become incredibly famous after his work in Near Dark. There is absolutely nothing at all wrong with this film. The way Bigelow directed flows perfectly with the characters and the writing. There is also at least an inkling of this film's influence in the work of Rob Zombie's The Devil's Rejects (2005) – it shares a lot of common elements with Near Dark – outsider characters, gritty cinematography, uneasy mixture of comedy and violence.
In Near Dark, the performances by Henriksen and Paxton are also stupendous – but what really stands out is the creepy leering performance of Joshua Miller, who does a staggering job of portraying the violence and depravity of a lonely, much older man. Prior to Kirsten Dunst's performance as a mature vampire in a child's body in Interview With the Vampire (1994), you had Miller running around smoking cigars and leering at young women before he met a much more violent and fiery end.
Despite the interesting dichotomy of Near Dark, it definitely shows more elements of a western film than a straight vampire film. As an emblem of romance and eroticism, vampirism suggests the exchange of essences between two individuals promising a transcendence of death; it can also be a sign of nurturing warmth, as Mae allows Caleb – still frightened to make his own kills – to feed on the blood on her own wrist. There was little, if any, romanticism and eroticism – and it was replaced by blood lust and hunger; still whatever it is Near Dark...