Review: A Night of Nightmares (Directed by Buddy Giovinazzo) (Fantasia 2012)

A Night of Nightmares (Directed by Buddy Giovinazzo) (Fantasia 2012)
7 10

PLOT: Mark (Marc Senter) - a music blogger, travels to a remote country house to interview Ginger (Elissa Dowling) – one of his favorite musicians. As night falls, Mark and Ginger are troubled by weird occurrences in the house- and are horrified when Ginger’s psychotic ex-boyfriend Phil (Jason London) shows up, waving around a gun, and claiming Ginger is “his”. But- it turns out that Phil is the least of their worries…

REVIEW: One of the most exciting things about the Fantasia Film Festival is that, thanks to the receptive, laid-back crowds, it’s become a place cult filmmakers are comfortable bring their “work-in-progress” films to. This year, cult director Buddy Giovinazzo (COMBAT SHOCK), brought his film A NIGHT OF NIGHTMARES, despite it only having been finished two days prior to the premiere.

Despite this, A NIGHT OF NIGHTMARES struck me as a pretty polished, tight little haunted-house chiller. As a blogger myself, I love the idea of Mark being drawn out into the middle of nowhere on the prospect of meeting an artist he admires/has a crush on, as which one of us wouldn’t travel to a similarly remote location to meet someone we’re a fan of?

Considering that A NIGHT OF NIGHTMARES is really a two-hander, with only a brief (solid) cameo for Jason London as the crazed Phil, the movie wouldn’t have worked without two very likable leads. As one half of the equation, we get Marc Senter, as the cynical, smart-alecky blogger. Senter- since giving an incredible performance in the Fantasia favorite RED, WHITE & BLUE, is quickly establishing himself as a force to be reckoned with in the indie genre world. After watching him demolish opponents MMA-style in last year’s BRAWLER, and play a knife-throwing, hell bound crooner in Darren Bousman’s THE DEVIL’S CARNIVAL- seeing him here is a real change of pace, but he pulls it off rather effortlessly.

Co-star Elissa Dowling is just as good as the damaged singer Ginger, who- once the haunting begins (after a solid twenty-minutes or so of character building, a nice touch on Giovinazzo’s part) is the true believer to Mark’s skeptic. I haven’t seen Dowling before, but she has an easy likability that makes you warm to her quickly- and also, if she indeed does her own singing here, has a hell of a set of pipes.

But, the question remains, is A NIGHT OF NIGHTMARES scary? I don’t know if I’d go and call it full-blown horror, as the haunting is probably more subtle than in something like AMITYVILLE or INSIDEOUS, but once it starts- Giovinazzo is certainly able to make the audience squirm, along with delivering the occasional jolt. What I liked about the haunting here is that it’s not necessarily confined to the house, as after a while, Mark and Ginger find their own bodies being haunted- with Ginger at once point finding a penny in a place pennies certainly don’t belong- if ya catch my drift. Giovinazzo also makes good use of music, with some vintage, be-bop style songs being effectively used throughout as part of the haunting.

Suffice to say, I had a very good time with A NIGHT OF NIGHTMARES. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it had me at the edge of my seat (truthfully- very few horror movies managed to do that to me nowadays), but I was certainly entertained, and engaged from start to finish. It’s a solid little thriller, and well worth checking out.



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