Written By: Aurora Caskey
Edited By: Grave Reviews Staff
Director: Brad Baruh
Producer: Don Coscarelli
Screenplay: Brad Baruh & Irving Walker
Release Date: September 22, 2017
Brea Grant as Casey Pollack
AJ Bowen as James Pollack
Sophie Dalah as Jessica Pollack
Elise Luthman as Becky Lane
Barbara Crampton as Leslie Bison
Rating = 2.5/5 Graves
***May Contain some spoilers***
Dead Night opens with a flashback to 1961 where we see a woman being captured by strange, demonic creatures. Fast forward to the present time, a family (young mother, father, two teenagers, and the daughter’s friend) is on a road trip to an isolated cabin in the woods. It’s revealed early on that these woods are said to possess special properties due to iron oxide deposits. The family is traveling there in the hopes that the healing powers of the land will help cure the father’s terminal cancer.
During the course of the film, a cut scene shows a “documentary-like” clip of the mother, who brutally murdered everyone at the cabin and is currently in prison. So how did Casey go from loving wife and mother to homicidal maniac in less than 24 hours? That’s the central mystery. While out looking for firewood, the father finds a woman unconscious in the snow. We know from seeing a fake commercial after the crime documentary that the woman is Leslie Bison, a gubernatorial candidate who promises to “end the war on values”. He takes her back to the cabin to warm up and it becomes clear that Leslie isn’t what she seems.
The Gore Factor
Dead Night is a fun, cheesy romp that is easy to digest for horror and non-horror fans. It has enough kill scenes and scares to satisfy horror aficionados, but overall it wasn’t terribly frightening. Once the second act got going, it was more plot driven than atmospheric. Still, there were some creepy demonic kills and the special effects were well done for an independent film. Legendary Phantasm writer and director Don Coscarelli was an executive producer on Dead Night, and you can see similarities between Dead Night and his other work.
The Grave Review
This film has a lot of ideas and ambition, but somewhat misses the mark. While I’m usually a fan of short and sweet movies, I think we could have spent more time at the cabin with the family, getting to know them better. The spooky, haunted cabin atmosphere is abruptly cut short when the movie veers off into another direction. There’s a lot of different threads that aren’t fully explored. For example, the commercial within the film is interesting, but needs to exist with other faux commercials. Instead, it functions as a shortcut to inform the viewer that Leslie is a powerful politician.
Overall, the story, set-up, acting, special effects, and even dialogue are great. I think something just got lost in the editing process that makes Dead Night (2017) feel rushed and more than a little confusing. It’s a fun watch if you have time to kill and want a movie that won’t offend those who hate being scared.
For the foregoing reasons, Grave Reviews gives Dead Night (2017), two and one-half graves out of five graves.
Do you agree with our review? Comment below.
You may also like our review on the film, Candy Corn.