In Comics: The Night Projectionist
Written by Robert Heske
Art by Diego Yapur
What’s scarier – the vampire movie playing on the screen, or the vampire running the projector?
On Halloween night, a coven of vampires descend upon small Massachusetts town. When they turn to an aging theater, they find the one person standing in their way – the night projectionist and rogue vampire Dragos. Now, Dragos gets to exact revenge against those who made him the monster he is, all while protecting the small film audience before this horror story becomes a little too real for them.
The Night Projectionist is a one-volume vampire thriller/slasher tale, following vengeful Dragos as he takes an entire movie theater audience hostage as his maker and former vampire family come after him for leaving their coven. Dragos has a personal connection to some of these hapless humans, but everyone else is just at the wrong place at the wrong time, including the theater owner that’s probably regretting this hire.
The story feels like a bad horror B-movie. A lot of these characters, particularly the human side, are one-note clichés, like the dumb jocks, first-victim cheerleaders, goth girl with family issues, small-town and all around good sheriff, and so on. None of them stand out. Even the dark, brooding badass that is Dragos brings nothing new to the table, as I try very hard not to call him an Angel rip-off. When the book tries to expand on some of the characters by diving into some flashbacks, it’s sloppy, ranging from confusing to contradictory. Since the plot focuses mostly on these generic characters as they try to survive the onslaught of vampires, I can’t find myself interested.
The actual vampirism in this book, how it works, is unique. Parasitic snakes ensnare the heart of the victim, binding them to the will of the head vampire. I don’t know any other work that takes that approach.
The vampires themselves are a serious threat. They are vicious as they change shape into wolves, even partially transforming into almost midway werewolves at times. With their supernatural strength, they tear normal people to shreds like paper. These vampires aren’t even stopped by little things like decapitation.
Like a lot of horror stories, I find myself more interested in what happens next than what happens in the actual story. The survivors find themselves changed and in a world that’s forever different for them, so what do they do now? The two-page epilogue sets up something more interesting story than the other 100-plus pages within.
The art is dark and heavily inked. Typically that works for a vampire horror story, but it seems detrimental to the original work, obscuring and distorting character details. Some of the town-folk character designs though aren’t really unique enough to always tell apart though. Either that, or the artist forgot what some characters looked like, or the dialog just doesn’t match the art.
The panel direction is sorely lacking in some parts. There is seriously a point where arrows direct you to the order to read panels, which would be laughable if they weren’t actually needed. Sadly, there are other panels that could have benefited from that too.
Honestly, I think The Night Projectionist would have worked better as an actual horror B-movie. A lot of standard thriller conventions it uses work better in film, especially with some cheesy acting and well-executed slasher scenes. Besides, the film gimmicks it uses and the theater setting just screams to be shot for real. In comics, it just falls flat.
Overall (Not an Average) 4/10