The mid 1970s. In an urban, blue collar neighborhood, a young man finds himself at odds with his Catholic family’s attempts to impose its rigid, oppressive lifestyle onto his own. The youth finds release by escaping into the night, where he can act on his desires and truly be himself. Women are a complete mystery to him, and he objectifies them as disposable pleasures. Eventually, he’s forced to re-evaluate his life when he falls for an older woman.
It’s an amusing set of similarities that exist between Saturday Night Fever and George A Romero’s Martin, but the films also share a cynical, deeper probing of the constrictive nature of family and the poisonous core of empty faith. But where Saturday Night Fever invites us to find the humanity in a racist, misogynist cheeseball, Martin asks us to empathize with a protagonist who, the film tells us, might be an 84 year-old vampire, but in all likelihood is simply a 19 year-old serial rapist and murderer.
What's great about this trailer is it has a very 70s onscreen narration, with John Amplas delivering a direct address to viewers in character as Martin, the most unreliable of narrators. Martin tells you all the dodgy details of his life story as he sees - or imagines - them. Like the film itself, the trailer suggests that maybe Martin's just a mixed-up kid, but one who's nevertheless capable of doing horrible things.
Is Martin actually a vampire? People like to say the film doesn't tell us; Romero likes to say “it doesn’t matter”, but the clues are there and any other answer than the obvious one serves no end other than cheap storytelling gimmickry. The most potent reading of the film is that Martin is a delusional maniac, created by a family of delusional maniacs, and they’re all far too human. Religious zealotry or vampirism - as Martin says early on, there is no real magic. It’s just a sickness.