Take Back the Night

03/22/2022 06:48

Film: Take Back the Night

Year: 2021

Director: Gia Elliot

Writers: Gia Elliot and Emma Fitzpatrick

Starring: Emma Fitzpatrick, Angela Gulner and Jennifer Lafleur



This is a movie that I didn’t know about until I saw a trailer for it when at the Gateway Film Center. When looking a bit more into this movie, I saw the release year as 2021 as this played at the Nightmares Film Festival. I missed last year due to getting married. I did see this won an award at that festival. That intrigued me and even more so now that it has its wide release in 2022. I saw this in the theater as well. The synopsis is finding herself the victim of a violent monster attack, Jane (Emma Fitzpatrick) launches a vigilante campaign to hunt the beast down.

For this movie, we start with voice-over narration as Jane walks toward a subway tunnel. It looks like she is trying to kill herself and from what we are hearing, she took a polygraph test and the person conducting it doesn’t believe her. We then shift over to a party. It is for Jane who is an artist. Her friend, who is played by Kati Sharp, is the one behind it. This is also a gallery showing. Jane has sold all her paintings so she is letting loose. Her sister was supposed to come but changes her mind. This makes Jane sad and she decides to drink even more. During the night, Jane hooks up with a guy in the bathroom, only to find out he is married. The young wife is Natalie D’Amico.

Jane helps a fan get into an Uber and when she calls one for herself, her phone dies. She can’t get anyone’s attention to let her back up to the party, so she walks out toward the road. She notices something behind a dumpster. It smells bad and there are flies all around. Jane is attacked by whatever this is. She ends up at a hospital where they take evidence for a rape kit. She is then interviewed by a detective, Jennifer Lafleur. She is asking questions about the attack and something catches the detective off-guard, Jane keeps using the term ‘it’ to describe her attacker. She claims it was a monster.

She is taken back to her apartment by her sister, Angela Gulner. Her sister wants to help and what is best for her, but they clash. Jane wants to find whatever did this to her and put a stop to it. Her sister wants her to rest. She also doesn’t like Jane putting herself out there as much as she does. It then becomes a heartbreaking, but very real look at how people are treated when they’re attacked like she was. Her past, mental history and other things are brought into question. Jane is strong, but she struggles to cope with those around her not believing her story. She does find strength through social media and she might not be the only one who met what she did.

That is where I’m going to leave my recap for this movie. We aren’t getting the deepest story here, but this is more of a character study of Jane as well as the trauma that she is dealing with. This movie feels a lot like Lucky from 2020 and how a sexual assault can change your life. This movie is a bit different with how it approaches it, but there are some similarities as well.

Since this movie is a character study, that is where I’ll start as well. Jane is an interesting one. She is a successful painter who is enjoying herself. What we learn though is that her mother had a history of mental illness. Jane does as well as she spent time in a place after her mother passed away. She seems fine to me now or at least in the limited time we get to see her. Her sister doesn’t like that Jane lives on social media, but that is partly why she is the success that she is. She is accessible to her audience. Jane does put too much of herself on social media for my liking though. It isn’t my place though either. Jane also likes to partake in alcohol and drugs. None of this means that she made up the attack on her or that she deserves what happens either.

Something I wanted to keep separate is the sexual violence we get here. Being that we have Gia Elliot as our director and co-writer, I think they handle this part well. Fitzpatrick is the one that wrote with her, which is interesting. Together, I think that they do well in not glorifying this, but still getting the point across. Part of the lead up to the attack, we see Jane have sex with someone in the bathroom before what happens to her. This hurts Jane’s case and it also makes her unreliable. There are a lot of people questioning her and using different pieces of her character or past to claim what they think happen. The problem is that none of them seem to believe her.

The last part of the story I want to delve into is the monster. Now there are markings on Jane. There is a crescent moon cut on her wrist as well as a slash across her stomach. This almost looked like a Caesarean section marking and I took this as signifying abortion. The creature is hard to get a look at. It is shrouded in smoke. There is a time where Jane tries to show it via a live video on Instagram, but they don’t get a good look at it. Some people don’t believe her, but there are those out there that do. What I did like is that we get a bit of research into this creature which goes back to pre-historic times. I could have done a bit more there personally as a story guy.

Now I said at the beginning of the last paragraph that was it for the story. What I wanted to do here is that we have two ways of looking at this. I can see people hating this movie for the message as they’re going to feel it is getting pushed down your throat. I disagree there. This is a subject matter that isn’t easy to see or think about. What she goes through is horrible. There is a way to read it that we have an actual monster here. Personally, I think that is what the movie is pushing. On the other hand, you can see this as the ‘monster’ is whoever attacked her. All of this could be grounded where we just have the people not believing her. You can also see this as nothing happened to her, but I don’t feel that is the case. We are just seeing what people go through.

I’m going to then shift over to the acting. I thought that Fitzpatrick was great here. We are seeing a woman go through a traumatic event. Her way of coping is fighting back. It is then those around her trying to tell her what she is doing wrong. Whether it is her sister wanting to her to stay off social media, keep to herself and rest. Or the detective who is bullying a young woman into admitting that what happened to her didn’t as she isn’t buying the story. Our detective has her career in mind and this is her first big case. All the other performances are solid, but they are there to direct Jane to where she ends up.

All that is left to go over would be the effects, cinematography and the soundtrack. For the former, I think the practical effects look good. Seeing the aftermath of the attacks on Jane is good. It made me feel bad, but that makes it more effective. The CGI we get here isn’t great though. The flies that we are seeing look fake unfortunately. I don’t mind the look of the creature. Since we aren’t fully sure if what we are seeing is what is there, that works for me. It helps make you wonder if it is there or not. I would say though that the cinematography is good across the board. It is shot well. The soundtrack also fit for what was needed in building the tension and atmosphere. We also get songs where the lyrics fit what we are seeing as well.

In conclusion, I think that this movie is an interesting one. We are getting a character study of Jane and seeing her try to prove what happened to her is as she remembers it. Fitzpatrick is great in her performance and it makes me wonder if she put personal experience here. Having two women behind this, our star along with Elliot as director and co-writer, helps to not glorify what we are seeing here. This is shot well; the practical effects look great and the soundtrack works. If I have issues, the message is too in your face. I think it needed to be a bit more subtle and focus slightly more on the monster. I understand why we don’t though. The CGI also isn’t great. For me, I thought this was an above average movie. My issues prevent from going higher unfortunately.


My Rating: 6.5 out of 10