Against the Night (Movie Review)

Last Updated on August 2, 2021

PLOT: A group of friends sneak into an abandoned prison with the intention of making a ghost hunting video, until they start to go missing one by one.

REVIEW: Director Brian Cavallaro's new haunted-horror-thriller Against the Night is a film that no doubt would have been shot in the POV found footage style if it had been released ten years ago. I'm almost willing to bet this is a script left over from the days when found footage was all the rage. But being that films nowadays are almost as cheap to shoot on prosumer camcorders and DSLRs, as they were to shoot documentary style a few years back, Against the Night, takes the form of a polished production. Kinda.

The film begins with our main character, Rachel, played by Hannah Kleeman, being interrogated inside the haunted abandoned prison after the fact by Frank Whaley aka Brett "Say what one more godd*amn time" from Pulp Fiction. Kleeman seems to be the only one left alive after – as strange as it may sound – something went bad went down inside the walls of this haunted abandoned prison. Go figure. 

We then flashback to the beginning of the night where a group of annoying friends are playing flip cup at a party. Turns out one of the group is an amateur filmmaker whose current specialty is filming bad made for TV paranormal documentaries featuring kids and ghost and what not. After filming one of his buddies and his girlfriend having sex (no one cares he's such a voyeuristic perv) he convinces the group to head on down to said abandoned haunted prison by offering them $200 a piece.

Very quickly the group of friends agrees that the best way to spend the rest of their night is to head straight over to an abandoned prison literally right down the street, which, side note, somehow none of them (other than the annoying film student guy) know is there. After a long walk to the prison, and a bunch a talking once inside, the group splits up because why wouldn't you split up when inside a haunted abandoned prison? As you can imagine the rest of the film plays out in a series of dark rooms and hallways, filmed half in shifting focus shadows and half in POV found footage green-ass night vision.

Let's start with the biggest issue the film has working against it – the characters. In horror we need characters we care about and can identify with to make the horror hit home. With movies like Against the Night, the group of main characters are so thinly drawn and unlikeable that all we can do is sit around and wait for their eventual demise. Given little to nothing to work with the actors that litter this film are more than forgettable. Not only that, but it is almost impossible to tell these typical white-privilege college buddies apart, with the one standout going to Nicole Souza who plays Brooke. Sure, she isn't given anything better to do other than run around in the dark, crying like all of her other cast mates, but still, she was the only character I kept tabs on and kept wondering where she was when she was off-screen.

For most of the film's running time, I was bored out of my mind, wishing I could turn the flick off and find something better to do with my night. The film's first and second acts are all but atrocious with repetition setting in quickly and then nesting for a good hour. When the violence does erupt, it mostly happens off the screen – even if we are in the room with the violent attack. For instance, there is a scene that kicks off the third act where the remaining characters are in a dark room and the film's shadowy central villain strikes. People scream, the camera cuts to black, cuts back on and we see victim(s) covered in blood, and repeat until several characters are dead. There is a quick pickaxe kill that looked pretty cool.

All of that said, once the flick hits the third act something quite amazing happens. Relatively speaking the film comes alive with a series of plot elements all thrown together making us wonder just where the film is heading and in which sub genre of horror it resides. The third act begins to sport elements of not only paranormal horror, but a masked slasher makes his/her way into the fold, along with subplots springing up involving everything from meth-heads to (possibly) ancient evil aliens.

Overall, Against the Night was a very hard film to sit through but eventually, it goes places in the third act that aren't a complete waste of time. Too bad by this point in the movie, the only characters left alive are the most forgettable ones. The film does sport a fun final frame, but again, that only stands to make us wish the film would have used a bit more of that balls-to-the-wall craziness throughout. Final thoughts? Don't cast your friends in your films.

Source: AITH

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