dead night | brad baruh | irving walker | elise luthman | joshua hoffman | james bartz | demon | demons | possession | possessed | united states | brea grant | aj bowen | barbara crampton | sophie dalah | witch | witches
Film: Dead Night
Director: Brad Baruh
Writer: Irving Walker
Starring: Elise Luthman, Joshua Hoffman and James Bartz
This was a film that I had heard some good things about and when my local theater was showing it, I thought I would give it a try. I did come in as blind as I could and didn’t even really know what it was about. The synopsis is a caring mother loses her sanity, setting off a chain of events resulting in tragedy and murder. The story of Casey Pollack unfolds from two very different perspectives when one night in the woods culminates in absolute terror.
This film actually starts back in 1961. We get a couple coming up to lover’s lane and it turns into the old cliché of someone in the woods. The thing we see though is pretty scary looking. The boy is murdered and his girlfriend is taken into the woods. We see she is pregnant and whatever is inside of her is tearing her apart.
We then shift to modern times. There is a family that is going to a cabin in the woods. The mother is Casey Pollack (Brea Grant). Her husband is James (AJ Bowen). We learn that he has cancer and that the place they are going has healing properties. With them are their two children, Jason (Joshua Hoffman) and Jessica (Sophie Dalah) as well as her friend Becky Lane (Elise Luthman).
This film though does take a turn that I wasn’t expected, we get the aftermath of what happens as told through a crime television show called Inside Crime. We get reenactments, 911 calls, eye-witness testimony and interviews as well. I personally wasn’t the biggest fan of this. It took me out of what I was doing. We do see that someone is watching this in the woods. The reveal of this is good, but I just wasn’t a fan.
What makes the night take a turn is when James and Jason encounter Leslie Bison (Barbara Crampton). She is passed out in the woods, or it seems that way. They take her back to the cabin where she lets on she knows more than what the family realizes. She says some inappropriate things and then attacks Jessica. To make even more interesting though, we see a commercial that she is running for governor of the state of Oregon.
I unfortunately feel that this film has some pacing issues. This was partially caused by the cutting between what is happening and the episode of the television show. I also wasn’t a fan that this literally gives away what the fates of everyone are, to an extent. The only thing I really liked from that though was we learn what the logical explanation is while also getting to see what really happened. The ending of the film I thought was a little too bland as well. I wanted to know more of what is really going on here and we don’t get that. An ambiguous ending is something I am a fan of, but this one leaves too many unexplained questions.
The acting for this film was pretty good though. Grant was really good. It is interesting that we get a glimpse of her, learn what she does and then we get to see more of who she really is. I do think the only issue here is that she snaps a little bit too quickly. I did like her strength though. I also found her to be quite attractive. Bowen is a horror regular and was good as the father. It was nice to see him as a good character as I normally see him as the villain. Crampton is an actress I’m a big fan of and this was an interesting role for her. It was much darker than I’m used to and she did it well. Luthman doesn’t get a lot of development, but I thought was also did well. She was also quite attractive. Hoffman and Dalah are also not overly fleshed out. Dalah does move around very well when she is changed into a demon. She was also nice to look at before that. The ‘crones’ that we see in the woods I thought played their roles well.
Something else strong for the film was the effects. They were pretty gory and looked to be mostly practical. The blood was a little bit watery, but that’s just a nitpick here. There is a pretty cool transformation scene at the end that I thought looked really good. I just have to give props to this team as this aspect was well done.
The score for the film was also good. It definitely fits the scenes for what they were going for and definitely helped to build tension. It is just a shame there was some editing issues that squandered this.
Now with that said, overall this film does do some good things while it does have some issues. I thought there was an interesting story here that just needed to be fleshed out more than we got. That did disappoint me. There were some editing issues that hurt the tension and there were just too many unanswered questions. The acting though was good as were the effects and the score of the film. Most of the female cast was very nice to look at and I was thankful for that as well. Overall though I would have to say this film is just slightly above average with the potential to have been really good.
My Rating: 6 out of 10