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“Nightwatch: Demons are Forever” Ups the Ante

Written by: Matt Patti | May 16th, 2024

Nightwatch: Demons are Forever (Ole Bornedal, 2023) 3½ out of 5 stars

A sequel 30 years in the making, Nightwatch: Demons are Forever sees Danish filmmaker Ole Bornedal return as writer and director several decades after the original 1994 film’s release. Bornedal also directed an English-language remake with the same title only three years later, but this newest film is a direct sequel to the Danish-language original.

Nightwatch: Demons are Forever stars Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Exit Plan) reprising his role as Martin. Also returning are Kim Bodnia as Jens and Ulf Pilgaard as Wörmer. I must admit, I only recently discovered that this new film is a sequel to a much older film, and so I viewed both back-to-back for context, but am no longtime fan of the franchise.

l-r: Kim Bodnia, Fanny Leander Bornedal, and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau in NIGHTWATCH: DEMONS ARE FOREVER. Courtesy of Christian Greisnæs. A Shudder Release.

The newest entry into the franchise takes place many years after the first film. Martin is now a father, but is closed off and hurting after his wife’s death. His daughter, Emma, is portrayed by Fanny Leander Bornedal, Ole’s daughter. Emma is also in pain after her mother’s death, but she is driven to put an end to her family’s suffering that has seemed to always exist as a result of the events that took place back in 1994. In an attempt to understand her parents’ predicament and possibly cure her father’s fears, Emma takes the same job Martin once had as a Nightwatch patrol at the same exact building and also sets up a meeting with demented serial killer Wörmer (Pilgaard). These choices seem to set off very strange happenings that only further plunge her family and friends into terror.

Nightwatch: Demons are Forever, like many sequels, takes things up a notch compared to its predecessor. The issue with most sequels is that this is rarely done well. However, in this case, Bornedal succeeds in crafting a darker, more intense film that has much heavier subject material. The sequel maintains some of the humor from the original but does not go overboard with it like the previous film tends to do. Bornedal also succeeds in bringing the Nightwatch story into the 21st century, with more modern characters and far better technical elements. Intriguing contrasts are explored between the Nightwatch position 30 years ago versus today.

Casper Kjær Jensen in NIGHTWATCH: DEMONS ARE FOREVER. Courtesy of Christian Greisnæs. A Shudder Release.

The returning cast all put forth great effort, but the standout is Pilgaard as Wörmer. Mildly off-putting and mysterious in the original, Wörmer is now on a whole other level as an undeniably creepy, disturbing blind man whose movements and mannerisms are utterly terrifying to watch, as is his unsettling dialogue. Newcomer Fanny Bornedal also delivers an exceptional performance as the scarred but resilient Emma.

The tension in this film is extremely palpable, as several nail-biting sequences leave the audience on the edge of their seats. There is a great use of sound as well as space and creative camera movements that ramp up the suspense. Clever actions by both protagonists and antagonists leave the viewer unsure of who will come out on top and provide some quality thrills, while an intriguing twist near the end leaves you guessing.

l-r: Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Kim Bodnia in NIGHTWATCH: DEMONS ARE FOREVER. Courtesy of Christian Greisnæs. A Shudder Release.

There is also a deep, compelling theme that appears throughout that is quite prevalent and thought-provoking. This theme deals with how a singular event in time can affect someone’s life forever. All of the returning characters in the film are deeply changed by the events of the first film and their actions and demeanor reflect that.

There are few negatives, but there are some aspects that could have been a bit better. For example, the motives behind the antagonists’ actions don’t make much sense when you step back and think about it. Also, there are some clichéd, maddening horror movie gaffes, as mistakes are made by characters when the right choice seems overwhelmingly obvious. Finally, Emma’s job as a Nightwatch guard seems like a novelty aspect of the plot, as it is not explored very much at all and seems only included as a reference to the original film.

Casper Kjær Jensen in NIGHTWATCH: DEMONS ARE FOREVER. Courtesy of Christian Greisnæs. A Shudder Release.

Overall, Nightwatch: Demons are Forever is a rare sequel that actually outdoes the original. With much more added suspense and tension, deeper themes, and less nonsensical humor, it is an improvement in almost every way, though the 1994 film still has its charm. The qualities of the sequel also stand on their own, as even without the obvious comparison to its predecessor, Nightwatch: Demons are Forever delivers on a level that many other horror films simply cannot.


Matt Patti has enjoyed voicing his opinions on films from a young age. He has lived in the Baltimore, Maryland, area since 2015 and is a graduate of Stevenson University’s Film & Moving Image program. Matt is currently back at Stevenson University, working as the School of Design, Arts, and Communication's Studio Manager.

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