Devil’s Night: Dawn of the Nain Rouge (Movie Review)

Last Updated on July 30, 2021

PLOT: When Lake Orion, Michigan is beset with 17 deaths in a week, all signs point to the legend of the Nain Rouge, a malefic little red devil. It’s up to a local police officer to quell the death toll as Halloween approaches.

REVIEW: Ahead of the running for the most insipid and insulting low-budget horror film of 2020 is DEVIL’S NIGHT: DAWN OF THE NAIN ROUGE (WATCH HEREOWN HERE), an irredeemably bad, nonthreatening and undaunting bore that nearly every self-respecting horror fan will struggle to finish in full. It’s amateur hour all around for a movie as stupid as you’d expect with the words Night and Dawn in the same title. Mired by poor acting, a meandering script, obvious overhead drone footage, and most defeating, a risible villain that makes the Red Devil from Fox’s campy horror-comedy Scream Queens look like halcyon-day Voorhees, there’s absolutely no reason to subject yourself to this poor 90-minute display. A shame, as the movie actually plants a kernel of intrigue early on, only to watch the premise quickly wilt under the hot lights of a camera setup. Seriously, the logo for The New Jersey Devils is more alarming than DAWN OF THE NAIN ROUGE.

The film opens in Lake Orion, Michigan, and incorporates two folkloric horror yarns specifically tethered to the region and the city of Detroit. First is the legend of the Nain Rouge, which literally translates in French to “red dwarf.” The term was coined as a way to describe an inimical Red Devil, replete with a long forked tail, that’s been attributed to several grisly and mysterious deaths in the state. The other Michigan-based tradition the movie shoehorns in with zero credibility is Devil’s Night, an annual pre-Halloween evening of mischief set on October 30th. If this sounds interesting, believe me, it very well could have been with a more focused screenplay, better acting, more adroit direction, and actual scariness. Alas, none of these aspects come to bear in a film saddled by inferior filmmaking across the board. We meet a former military vet and local police officer Billie Jean Finnick (Jesi Jensen), a mirthless drag who laments a fallen friend during their time in battle. Finnick begins responding to several calls in the city about a “little red devil” that’s been savagely slaughtering people of all stripes, criminals included.

Of course, we never actually see any onscreen killing, as the script is clearly tailored around its woeful lack of resources. All we get for the first hour are distant glimpses of the Nain Rouge – clearly just a dude in a dark hooded sweatshirt with a lame CG-tail attached – with a few postmortem shots of the devil’s grisly wet-work. Even these images fail to induce anything but disappointed gasps and eye-rolls. As the movie plods along with overhead HD drone footage that betrays itself with easily seeable shadows and dust-ups upon landing and take-off, not to mention a slew of dragged-out slow-motion shots, we’re told more bodies continue to mount. Told, but never shown. Somehow the death-toll spikes to five corpses in 24 hours and 17 in one week. And yet, a genuine threat is never felt, never credibly conveyed, and because of the amateurish performances from the entire cast, we stop caring almost immediately. Honestly, my favorite scene in the whole movie comes during a conversation in which a police officer berates a colleague for calling him away from his delicious homemade sandwich. Seriously.

When we do finally get a full view of the homicidal homunculus, you can see why it was hidden from us until the final few minutes. It’s that chintzy and ineffective. Not only is the mere appearance of the Nain Rouge akin to the Halloween costume of a six-year-old, but the thankless actor also forced to perform under it knows such and acts accordingly. Speaking of Halloween, for a movie that plots its pinnacle on Devil’s Night, why are there no Halloween decorations in the entire film? That’s like the easiest way to add instant production value, not to mention foster a modicum of credibility in the story you’re presenting, and yet not a single pumpkin is to be found in the film? This is inexcusable for a movie specifically built around two mythic Michigan mores. It might be forgivable if the movie were at all frightening or moderately thrilling in any way, but again, there’s nothing here a serious horror fan ought to sit through.

Do wise and duck NAIN ROUGE if it ever passes your way.

Source: Arrow in the Head

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Jake Dee is one of JoBlo’s most valued script writers, having written extensive, deep dives as a writer on WTF Happened to this Movie and it’s spin-off, WTF Really Happened to This Movie. In addition to video scripts, Jake has written news articles, movie reviews, book reviews, script reviews, set visits, Top 10 Lists (The Horror Ten Spot), Feature Articles The Test of Time and The Black Sheep, and more.