The Movie Waffler New Release Review (DVD) - DEAD NIGHT | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review (DVD) - DEAD NIGHT

dead night review
A family discover a mysterious injured woman while weekending at a remote cabin.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Brad Baruh

Starring: Brea Grant, AJ Bowen, Barbara Crampton, Sophie Dalah, Daniel Roebuck

dead night dvd

Writer/director Brad Baruh has pulled off the unique trick of making me salivate for a sequel to a movie I don't particularly care for. The ending of Dead Night sets up a potential followup that introduces the supernatural to the world of politics, something not tackled in the horror genre since The Omen and its inferior sequels. But for now all we have is Dead Night, which deserves praise for its aspirations, but it's that same ambition that leads to Baruh's film going off the rails in a messy finale.

dead night review

The initial setup could be confused with that of a hundred straight to VOD horror movies, as a young family arrives at a remote cabin in - you guessed it! - the woods. James (AJ Bowen) has been recently diagnosed with cancer, and his new-agey wife Casey (Brea Grant) has been sold on the idea that because of it being built above an iron oxide deposit, the cabin may have miraculous healing qualities. Dragged along for the weekend are their teenage kids Jessica (Sophie Dalah) and Jason (Joshua Hoffman) and Jessica’s shy friend Becky (Elise Luthman).

Where Dead Night begins to intriguingly deviate from what appears to be a generic setup is in a flash forward to clips from 'Inside Crime', a true crime TV show whose current episode details the horrific events that are set to ensue for Casey and her family later that evening. The show takes a commercial break, introducing the character of Leslie Bison (Barbara Crampton), a politician running for the Oregon governor's seat.

dead night review

Back at the cabin, Jason heads out into the woods and comes across an unconscious female figure lying in the snow. It's no less than Leslie Bison, though neither Jason nor any of his family members recognise her (I guess politics isn't their strong point). When they take Leslie back to the cabin she springs to life and begins to behave in an increasingly obnoxious manner, flirting with the teens, gobbling down food and drink and generally freaking out her hosts.

It's this sequence that provides the film's most satisfying portion, thanks mainly to a bona fide creepy turn from Crampton. Once best known for her 1980s work with director Stuart Gordon, the actress is enjoying a current revival in the indie horror scene, with roles in acclaimed genre pieces You're Next, We Are Still Here and Beyond the Gates. Now a year off her 60th birthday, Crampton is still being cast in sexy and seductive roles, proving once again that horror is the most progressive of all genres. While mainstream cinema puts female stars out to pasture once they hit 40, horror is still offering Crampton the chance to vamp it up, and she's having a palpable blast playing the bad girl here. Watching her take delight in messing with the heads of the threatened Casey and her brood is compelling fare.

dead night review

It's in the film's second half that the complicated plot starts to unravel and Dead Night descends into a poor man's Evil Dead rip off, with a character lopping off zombie heads with an axe while Crampton's Leslie unfortunately takes a back seat to the over the top action. An uneasy psychological thriller bolstered by Crampton's manic edginess turns into the sort of VOD fodder the movie initially threatened with its cabin in the woods setting before setting up a potentially fascinating sequel that in all likelihood will never get made.

Dead Night is on DVD and digital download October 8th from Studiocanal.