Starring Brea Grant, Barbara Crampton, and AJ Bowen, this quirky fusion of home invasion and black magic sets out to entertain but doesn’t leave a definite impression.
Summary: Diagnosed with cancer, James (AJ Bowen) and his devoted wife Casey (Brea Grant) set out with their kids to a cabin supposedly built upon “healing rocks” as a last resort cure. Nothing goes right or feels right the moment they arrive and it’s Casey alone that has to face both what’s in the woods outside and what the future holds.
This was a blind watch for me. I’m a fan of nearly everything Bowen is in, so the appeal was there from the get-go. However, his screen time was cut short and I was coaxed into continuing on with the story by sheer determination. Younger cast members struggled to find their footing, or rather, their wording. That aside, acting and pacing were acceptable.
The attempt at a snarky social commentary didn’t mesh into the other vibes it was giving off. The witches/not witches were honestly the coolest thing about Dead Night. They had a completely sinister and nontraditional look to them. They weren’t just women, they were full blown creatures. I wish we had more time with them and not a brief, awkward scene that summarized their entire existence in three lines. The zombie minions had off putting CGI googly eyes. Other than that, they were okay by me. The opening scene was hardcore, morbidly funny, and got you fucking pumped for what was going to unfold. Sadly, the answer turned out to be “not much.”
When I say not much, I really mean not much more than what audiences were already told before the halfway mark. Literally, the ending was revealed verbatim. It depleted its only reason for audiences to finish the film by revealing exactly how it was going to end without much substance in between, save for a few shaded beheadings. The effects were phenomenal, in theory. They weren’t front and center or well lit enough to be enjoyed fully. In other words, you had to use your imagination and what the Foley artist gave you. The intermingling of part true crime TV and cabin-in-the-woods schtick left a bad taste.
You should probably wait for this to hit Prime or Netflix if you’re at all curious. The current rental price is not justifiable for the amount of actual entertainment you’ll get. The biggest twist of Dead Night was that there was no twist at all. If you’re looking to support or explore Dark Sky Films, I can recommend It Stains the Sands Red.