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Dead Night (Movie Review)

Dead Night (Movie Review)
8 10

PLOT: James and his wife Casey load up their two teenage kids and head out to a remote cabin in Oregon for a weekend trip. When James heads into the snowy forest in search of firewood, he encounters an enigmatic woman passed out in the snow. Bringing her back to the cabin for help, the family has no way of knowing that the woman's presence is the catalyst for a series of events that will change their lives forever. Mixing original storytelling with timeless supernatural elements, Bradford Baruh's directorial debut features a stellar cast of genre favorites including AJ Bowen and Barbara Crampton and delivers a wild and blood-soaked weekend away.

REVIEW: To start all of this off with a bit of trivia, this movie was originally called APPLECART. You may have seen promotions for it and been interested, especially considering the cast. This is that film - only now it's called DEAD NIGHT. That out of the way, Bradford Baruh's directorial debut boasts an impressive cast, including Brea Grant, AJ Bowen, and Barbara Crampton. Dark Sky Films will be releasing the film into theaters and VOD/Digital this Friday, and today I'm here to let you guys know if the flick is worth the cash or not. Let's get to it!

The film kicked off in all the right ways, giving us an old school beginning that brought to mind all the classic horror flicks I love such as NIGHT OF THE CREEPS and THE BLOB. A guy and a girl head out to the middle of the woods to make out in his killer old ass car. 60's style doo-wop plays and before you know it something sinister out in the woods makes an appearance. Did I say something sinister in the woods? How about f*cking freaky as all hell. The opening scene already had me creeped out and rechecking the screen for the horror hiding in the woods. Eventually, the guy is super killed and the girl is kidnapped, taken into the deep dark woods and forced to birth the child of this mysterious hellspawn. Roll credits. Killer beginning, right? Does the rest of the movie hold up? 

Let's go ahead and start with the positive, shall we? The film LOOKS amazing. The locations are beyond stunning and I loved the locale. Add to that, once the cast of characters gets settled and the snow starts to fall, the film is a winter wonderland - which always makes for quality horror imagery. But location (despite what real estate agents may tell you) isn't everything. Thank the Movie Gods that this film's cinematographer knows just how to capture the landscapes to mass effect with some killer surreal photography thrown in for good measure. I don't know if there are many films out there that I'd suggest you watch based on the landscapes alone, but this is one of those rare times.

On the dull side of the horror coin, the actual horror contained within this film is lacking. Sure, there's crazy super-gore on display here by the buckets, but the actual horror on hand is just... lacking. Without getting into spoilers, let's just say that the source of the sinister shenanigans is all based in some super-silly huba-magoo, involving some kind of hive with pulsating guts and... other stuff. That said, the film takes an interesting turn about ten minutes in that places the happenings in a new light that I have yet to see the film's promotional materials spoil. The plot development (not really a twist) made this film special and added a whole lot more fun and mystery to the dark journey into the snowy woods.

The cast is also excellent all-around with Brea Grant and AJ Bowen leading the charge. Brea Grant is an actress you might not be overly familiar with but she has her legion of fans out there (including me) who have loved her since her role as Laurie Strode's punk-rock co-worker in Rob Zombie's HALLOWEEN II). As with all of her other roles to date, Grant displays all the charm needed to make her rather difficult role sing. Love her. Bowen is one of my favorite actors out there at the time and, like always, he keeps the film from being too serious. His charisma and natural sense of comedy keep all of the scenes involving his character light and lovable. 

On top of those stellar thespians, the film also stars one of our generation's scream queen supremes, Barbara Crampton. And as you might imagine, she is as lovely as ever - and her role is one that adds tons of surprises and dark humor to this film. Rounding out the cast we have Sophie Dalah, Elise Luthman, Joshua Hoffman, and Daniel Roebuck. And like Barbara Crampton's role mentioned above, Roebuck's role is especially enjoyable, as he plays the host of a TV series that plays a very interesting part in the film.

Overall, the movie has a fun plot development early on that makes it more entertaining than the typical run-of-the-mill family trapped in a cabin tale. The cast is stellar and the snowy locations are beyond beautiful. But the horror on hand is just far too silly to be, you know, scary. And thus it's hard to recommend the film fully. Marks are given, though, for the film's boldness. Some of the twists I didn't see coming - but that's because they are super out of left field. My suggestion is - if you decide this film is for you - make sure to check it out knowing as little as possible about its plot.

This is a love it or hate it kind of film. Beware. But at least it's gory as hell.

Extra Tidbit: Dark Sky Films will be releasing the film into theaters and VOD/Digital July 27th.
Source: AITH

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