Nightbreed was a favorite “weird” horror movie of mine back in the early 90s. After watching it again after nearly 20 years, it was like watching a different film altogether. Nightbreed is about a psychiatrist, Dr. Decker (David Cronenberg), who frames his former patient, Boone (Craig Sheffer), for murders he actually committed. Already an obviously contrived plot, the film continues to use several cliché tactics along the way. To further complicate Boone’s fragile state, Dr. Decker replaced his Lithium with a powerful hallucinogen, ensuring no one will believe his wild claims of a secret city called Midian. The secret city houses a bizarre group of malevolent/benevolent monsters who have sequestered themselves away from society. Boone has a natural connection to the fabled city and soon finds himself in the thick of it.
The Nightbreed are certainly interesting visually, but don’t have much variation throughout. I love old school hands-on effects, but these creations lack soul in my opinion. The plot is frustrating and confusing, compounding the choppy and fragmented feel of the film. While this review is for the original theatrical release. The Cabal cut doesn’t shed much more light. The acting is downright awful at times, proving that crappy actors in full makeup are still just crappy actors. Boone’s romantic sub-plot is wholly unnecessary and felt like another forced addition to catch the attention of a broader audience. Fans of Barker will certainly recognize the Hellraiser feel, but Nightbreed is no Hellraiser, I assure you. The film suffers from all style, no substance.
I enjoyed the nostalgic re-watching of Nightbreed, but to me, that’s all it really is; a fun memory of a time I absorbed every horror movie I could. By today’s standards, I would rate this a 4 out of 10.