The Night Flier is a horror film directed by Mark Pavia, releasing 1997. It’s based on the short story of the same title by Stephen King. The film follows Richard Dees, a cynical tabloid reporter who will stop at absolutely nothing to get the scoop. His motto is “Never believe what you publish and never publish what you believe.
Dees is handed a about a bloody murder in a rural airfield, committed by a passing aviator who thinks he is a vampire and registered under the name of Dwight Renfield. At first, Dees refuses but reverses his decision when two more murders are committed in another airfield, the victims drained of their blood. He recovers the case from novice reporter Katherine Blair and leaves in the footsteps of the killer aboard his own light aircraft.
Dees gathers accounts, pays bribes and even desecrates a grave for the purposes of his investigation. He senses that the case is stranger than it seems and receives messages telling him to stop. At the same time Katherine conducts her own parallel investigation. Dees offers the young woman to join forces to hunt down the killer. They find his trail at an airfield and, as he no longer needs her, Dees abandons Katherine to continue alone. What will he discover?
The Night Flier is a damn good horror film. It is helped greatly by a stellar performance from the late Miguel Ferrer as Richard Dees. He’s perfectly cast with his uncompromising determination to get a story both despicable and admirable all at once. I can’t think of too many films that have you follow a lead character that has no good qualities. One that isn’t afraid to be a complete unashamed asshole with no regards for anyone else’s feelings. It’s equal parts entertaining and refreshing. This makes the moment in which he does eventually start to crack that much more impactful.
This film is filled with commentary on the bloodthirsty nature of tabloid journalism. The chief editor of the publication feels like an exaggerated character but it only made me imagine how that must be a reflection of reality. It’s all very tongue in cheek and you can’t help but laugh at the absurdity of it but at the same time it’s actually pretty messed up.
Additionally, The Night Flier delivers plenty of high quality gore. It’s the type of stuff that is supposed to resemble something from a murder scene or an accident of some kind. Therefore, it’s more effective and subtle than other types of gore that can be over the top. Still, there’s plenty at hand and it all looks really great. The absolute highlight must be the fantastic reveal of Dwight Renfield. The makeup effects and the way it’s filmed really build up the anticipation and creep factor, it does not disappoint.
Overall, Watching The Night Flier really made me miss these types of horror films. I would take it over pretty much anything that is made these days. It isn’t spectacular or anything, just a genuinely solid movie. If you’re hoping for the usual plethora of Stephen King tropes then you’ll be very satisfied with that aspect as well.
The Night Flier
The Final Score - 8/10