An Eerie Danish Sequel’s Powerful Exploration Of Trauma


  • Nightwatch: Demons Are Forever explores intergenerational trauma in a powerful and nuanced way.
  • The film slowly reveals past characters with a creepy and unnerving atmosphere.
  • Though lacking in humor, the sequel effectively adds to the themes of the original while remaining a worthy successor.

As a sequel made 30 years later, Nightwatch: Demons Are Forever captures the spirit of the original Danish film as it powerfully explores how trauma can be passed through generations. With the focus shifting to Martin’s daughter as she drudges up past horrors in a quest to find out the truth of her family’s history, writer and director Ole Bornedal has crafted a tense and unnerving horror thriller that pays homage to the past while modernizing the story for a new audience. With unnerving tension, this slow-burning horror gradually unveils its alarming context.

Nightwatch: Demons Are Forever is a 2023 film and the sequel to the original Night Watch, based on the novel by Sergey Lukyanenko. The story continues to follow Anton Gorodetsky, a young man caught between the forces of light and darkness in modern-day Moscow, as he faces new challenges and battles against demonic forces.


  • Nightwatch: Demons Are Forever explores intergenerational trauma
  • The sequel’s story effectively builds on what came before

  • The sequel is not as effective as the original Nightwatch
  • Demons Are Forever lacks the humor of the first film

Although Nightwatch: Demons Are Forever can be enjoyed on its own, there are so many allusions to the past, returning characters, and nods to the original that viewers should first familiarize themselves with the 1994 horror classic Nightwatch. The previous movie ended with Martin, played by Nikolaj Coster-Waldau in a pre-Game of Thrones role, and his girlfriend Kalinka narrowly escaping death at the hands of the serial killer Wörmer. While they were deeply traumatized by the experience, they made it out alive and had a daughter, Emma (Fanny Leander Bornedal), who grew up with parents who never reconciled their past.

The Trauma Of Past Nightmares Returns In Nightwatch: Demons Are Forever

Fanny Leander Bornedal gives a powerful performance as the new nightwatch

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau nightwatch demons are forever

Emma is a medical student who secretly takes up the position of night watch at the Institute of Forensic Medicine, the same place where her parents were almost killed. With a pill-addicted father and her mother having died by suicide, Emma goes to the facility to find answers but, in the process, ends up setting off a chain of events that leads to the reappearance of Wörmer and a repeat of the devastating events of the past. Out of this backdrop, the demons that haunted Emma’s family for decades are ready to rear their ugly heads once again.

Nightwatch: Demons Are Forever is all about atmosphere, and its creepy and often bloody aesthetic helps it rise above its somewhat lackluster script.

Part of the joy of Nightwatch: Demons Are Forever is how it slowly brings back its past characters in a way that feels natural. While Martin was the protagonist of the original, he’s a shadow of his former self here as his daughter seeks to do anything she can to make him confront the past and move on from his trauma and the loss of Kalinka. Earlier characters like Lotte, Jens, and even the Doctor are woven into the story, while Emma’s friends unwittingly encounter the dark legacy of Wörmer.

​​​​​​Nightwatch: Demons Are Forever is all about atmosphere, and its creepy and often bloody aesthetic helps it rise above its somewhat lackluster script. From the slow and unnerving setting of the medical facility to the shocking imagery of an old and blind Wörmer, who survived being shot in the original and was wasting away in a psychiatric facility, every scene had an unsettling vibe that felt like a disconcerting event was just around the corner. While Nightwatch: Demons Are Forever manages to capture the uncomfortable feeling of the original, it lacks the humor that made Nightwatch such a success.

Demons Are Forever Is Still A Worthy Successor To Nightwatch

While Nightwatch: Demons Are Forever did not exceed the original movie, it added to its themes

At its core, this is a movie about intergenerational trauma and the way the torments of the past won’t disappear unless they are faced. This is encapsulated through Martin and Emma’s relationship and also in Wörmer, who is revealed to have had a child. Emma needs to revisit the past to connect with and understand the mother she lost, and because Martin is unwilling to share those experiences with her, she feels forced to put herself, her family, and her friends in danger. This theme is powerfully explored as the subtle nuances and twists of the story are revealed.

With so much time passed since the original, Nightwatch: Demons Are Forever feels like a worthy sequel, although whether it was entirely necessary is up for debate. Bornedal brought something new to the world of Nighwatch as Emma sought to break the cycle of trauma that had plagued her parents and been passed on to her, only to learn that sometimes trying to make things better can reopen old wounds and invite a world of pain. The performances are committed, and the fear is palpable throughout Nightwatch: Demons Are Forever, which should please those who loved the original, even if it never quite managed to top it.

Nightwatch: Demons Are Forever is streaming on Shudder on Friday, May 17.

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