Night Fare (2015) Julien Seri, Jess Liaudin- Best Horror Movie You Never Saw

People mess with the wrong taxi driver in NIGHT FARE (2015). It just might be the Best Horror Movie You Never Saw!

Last Updated on June 6, 2024

Some of the films we cover in the Best Horror Movie You Never Saw video series are more difficult to find than others, but for the last couple years the film we’re looking at in this episode has been available to watch on the Netflix streaming service in several countries around the world. Netflix has so much content that things can sometimes get lost in the crowd – and that’s why we want to draw your attention to the 2015 thriller Night Fare (which you can own HERE).

CREATORS / CAST: A French production, Night Fare was the fourth feature film from director Julien Seri, whose previous works had been action films built around parkour and mixed martial arts. Keeping that in mind, it’s not surprising to learn that the initial idea for Night Fare actually came from a martial arts expert, that person being the mononymous Tarubi, who served as the capoeira advisor on Ocean’s Twelve. When you see Vincent Cassel using capoeira to avoid lazer beams in that movie, you have Tarubi to thank for it.

With Cyril Ferment and Pascal Sid, Seri fleshed Tarubi’s idea out into a screenplay, then the filmmaker cast another martial arts expert in a major role: the mysterious taxi driver at the center of the story is played by Jess Liaudin, who was a professional MMA fighter for over twenty years, starting when he was just sixteen years old.

Jonathan Howard and Jonathan Demurger play Chris and Luc, friends who have the bad luck of getting into the taxi driver’s cab during a night out on the town. It’s a smooth ride at first, but when Luc decides not to pay the fare – despite having a wad of cash in his pocket – things take a turn for the worse. The driver relentlessly stalks Chris and Luc through the city streets, and not even the offer to give him the money he’s owed is enough to get the driver to leave them alone. Once he’s been stiffed, the driver never shows any further interest in getting paid. Now he’s just out to torment these guys… and whenever someone gets in between him and his prey, he lays waste to them in brutal, bloody ways.

The driver isn’t the only problem that Chris and Luc have to face over the course of this night. They also have to deal with the fact that Luc is now dating Chris’s ex Ludivine, played by Fanny Valette. Unfortunately for Ludivine, it doesn’t take long for the driver to figure out that she’s important to both of the guys he’s pursuing.

BACKGROUND: Julien Seri was just in his twenties when he was given the chance to make his feature directorial debut on a film called Yamakasi, produced by Luc Besson. He has said that ended up being a painful experience for him, and that he only directed forty-two percent of the finished product. A few years later, Seri directed The Great Challenge – a film he describes as “lame”, even though he was happy with the visual style. His third film, Scorpion, is one he was more proud of, while admitting that it had weaknesses. After Scorpion, Seri spent several years working in television, and eventually reached the point where he was ready to walk away from directing entirely. It was when he was deciding to quit that the opportunity to make Night Fare presented itself.

Seri and the producers put together a plan to make this film very quickly. It was written, funding was secured, the cast was assembled, and the film went into production all within a span of three months. The first draft of the script was knocked out in just four days, and a total budget of around a million euros was raised through private investors and crowdfunding. Before Night Fare, Seri was feeling angry and disillusioned with the entertainment business, but through the approach taken to making this film he was able to achieve real artistic freedom. As he put it, “We had no censors, we were all alone, we didn’t even know if the film would ever come out. We were like 20 year old kids making their first movie.”

The finished film had some luck playing at festivals, it was able to generate some good word of mouth and was given a Best Feature Film award by at least one of them. Then it landed a major release from the Netflix streaming service – and that’s pretty much where the Night Fare conversation has ended. While many Netflix subscribers have access to it, it’s not a movie you hear about too often. Hopefully that will be changing soon, because it’s a film that is absolutely worth watching and recommending to other fans of the horror and thriller genres.

WHAT MAKES IT GREAT: The Steven Spielberg classic Duel and Michael Mann’s Collateral were the primary inspirations for Night Fare, and the influence of both of those films can be seen in the film. You have a mysterious driver following people around in his vehicle, like in Duel, while Collateral is reflected in the “nighttime in the city” setting, the prominence of a taxi cab, and sequences of violence. But before we reach the violence, Seri gets us to care about the characters who will be dropped into this bad situation, spending the early minutes establishing the complicated love triangle Chris, Luc, and Ludivine are in.

Chris and Ludivine were in a relationship two years earlier, until a night when he went back to England, his home country, without giving Ludivine any sort of warning or explanation. Now that Chris has returned to France, he’s somehow shocked that Ludivine has moved on in his absence and is now dating his friend Luc. It really seems like he expected her to just sit around and wait for him, even though he cut contact with her. Chris may be a bit of a fool, but he still seems to be a better person than Luc, who is obviously mixed up in some criminal dealings. Ludivine admits to Chris that she might still have feelings for him… and while the driver’s violent pursuit of her two suitors will be the main focus of the film, Seri and his co-writers have still managed to hook us with the personal drama of the characters. In the midst of the thrills, we’re also waiting to find out more information on why Chris bailed on Ludivine, and France in general, years earlier. As it turns out, it may have something to do with what’s going on with the driver. It quickly becomes very clear that this isn’t just about the cab fare.

There are some awesome scenes of the driver menacing Chris and Luc without even getting out of his vehicle. A moment of the cab circling the guys as they stand in the center of a roundabout brings to mind a shark circling something it’s about to sink its teeth into. A scene of the guys hiding in a parking garage while the cab drives between the rows of vehicles brings to mind the style of a slasher movie, and that’s not the only time you’ll be thinking of slashers while watching Night Fare. In fact, there’s even a moment where someone compares the dark, hulking figure of the driver to Jason Voorhees. The driver goes on to prove that he is quite capable of racking up a healthy body count, much like Jason.

This isn’t a straightforward slasher like a Friday the 13th, but it did start out that way. Night Fare was written as a slasher, and went into production as one. As filming went on, Seri began to see the driver as something more than just a killer cabbie. He dropped in some hints that there was a hidden depth to this silent, menacing character, and during the editing process he became certain that he and the other writers needed to come up with a back story for the driver and dig into his motivations with some additional photography. That’s when the driver drifted away from being a Jason type and became a character that Seri would be more likely to compare to The Punisher or Wolverine.

The revelation of what exactly is going on with the driver comes in a third act twist that may be the dividing line that determines whether or not someone is going to consider themselves a fan of this movie. Some may be disappointed that we learn anything about this character, or that we find out he isn’t just a rage-fueled maniac. Others may be fascinated by the unexpected mythology the filmmakers crafted for the cabbie; a mythology that, in a cool stylistic choice, is even conveyed through the use of some animation.

Night Fare doesn’t end up being the film you might be expecting it to be when you start watching it, and maybe that’s why it’s lesser known at this time. But that subversion of expectations is also part of what makes it a great viewing experience. Seri said he wanted to “…subtly move away from the clichés to highlight the characters and their emotions, bringing more depth to the story than one could imagine. … The atmosphere at times leans more toward romance, at times more toward an action film with original fight scenes, and at other times, quite gory with surprising shots that become more and more violent. Our driver reveals the unease of our daily lives, the violence and the perversity that looms above us. He lurks, he hunts, he’s always where we don’t expect him.”

BEST SCENE(S): While it’s greatly appreciated that Seri wanted to give the driver and the people he’s pursuing some extra depth, of course the most entertaining and satisfying scenes in the film are the ones where the driver is unleashed on unlucky victims. Animal lovers may applaud how the driver handles a security guard who mistreats his dog, and one of the most memorable scenes involves the driver taking on a gang of criminals with a samurai sword in his hand. The only letdown is that moments of people getting slashed and impaled feature some unconvincing CGI blood spray

Liaudin, on the other hand, is one hundred percent convincing in the violent scenes. He has a very intimidating screen presence, and it’s totally believable when he bashes people around like they’re nothing to him. Which makes sense, given his former profession. We see the driver take down groups of people on a couple different occasions, so we know Chris and Luc aren’t going to be able to do anything to him when they try to tag team him in the climactic sequence, but it’s fun to see them try. Even with one hand latched on to the captive Ludivine, the driver is able to fend off their attacks. It might not always be clear whether he’s a villain or a hero, but it is always clear that the character is a badass.

PARTING SHOT: Night Fare was a great accomplishment for Seri and his collaborators. What starts out as a simple stalk-and-slash filled with bloodshed turns into something different by the end, and getting to that surprising destination is a hell of a trip. This quickly-made film turned out to be an entertaining, fast-paced, hard-hitting thriller, but the best thing to come out of it may be the fact that the artistic freedom Seri enjoyed on this production managed to revive his passion for directing. After seeing how cool Night Fare is, it’s exciting to know that we will have more Seri projects to look forward to in the future.

If you haven’t watched Night Fare yet, you should seek it out – whether on Netflix or otherwise – and give it a spin.

THE BEST HORROR MOVIE YOU NEVER SAW is one of several shows that are available to watch on our JoBlo Horror Videos YouTube channel. Some of the previous episodes can be seen below. To watch more, head over to the YouTube channel – and subscribe while you’re there!

Source: Arrow in the Head

About the Author

Cody is a news editor and film critic, focused on the horror arm of, and writes scripts for videos that are released through the JoBlo Originals and JoBlo Horror Originals YouTube channels. In his spare time, he's a globe-trotting digital nomad, runs a personal blog called Life Between Frames, and writes novels and screenplays.