film reel image

film reel image

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Nightlight 2015 * Star

NightlightDirectors: Scott Beck, Bryan Woods
Year: 2015
Rated R
Rating: * Star
Cast: Shelby Young, Chloe Bridges, Carter Jenkins

2015's Nightlight was directed by two people. It is possibly the lamest horror film ever made. You watch in disbelief and wonder how worse it could have been had only one person been behind the camera. Blatant characteristics of 2007's Paranormal Activity and 1999's The Blair Witch Project come to mind when taking in a viewing. But imagine those landmark vehicles with almost no scares, shallow and meaningless characters, mediocre acting from the leads, and countless scenes of tedium. Eighty four minutes seems too long to facilitate a movie like the one I'm about to review. It's a "light" that needs to be completely turned off.

The hook with this limited, March release (shot almost entirely in Utah) isn't one of the found footage variety. The idea here is for everything on screen to be seen through the eyes of a flashlight (masquerading as a failed, hand-held gag). The flickering contraption on display, is mostly used by the supposed, female heroine. There's no indication that a camera is built inside of it. However, we as an audience are supposed to accept that the events unfolding are the result of what said flashlight takes in as long as it doesn't go out. Did the filmmakers assume that this concept was highly innovative or groundbreaking? Gosh I hope not. And for the record, you'd think the main protagonist would provide enough fresh, Energizer batteries if he or she was venturing into the desolate, dark woods (during the dead of night). Anyway, here's a question for Scott Beck and Bryan Woods (the two guys responsible for this Blair Witch version of sloppy seconds): Why can't something be filmed like a regular f***ing movie these days? Enough is enough already. Jeez!

Starring six actors/actresses I've never heard of, tacking on a connecting plot point of a friend's suicide via the first and last sequence, and distributed by the same company associated with the Hunger Games flicks (Lionsgate), Nightlight follows attractive, female pushover slash unlikely horror victor, Robin (played by Shelby Young). She partakes in a flashlight game in a forest preserve. This preserve is an area where supposedly, no one gets out alive. As Robin and her silly friends play a kooky game of gleaming hide and seek, demonic entities are in their midst. Cliched victims are killed one by one and their annoying personas (as established early on) are completely intolerable at best.

Now as faintly mentioned earlier, Nightlight doesn't chill you to the bone, or fill you with a level of discomfort, or pile on palatable fear (with a micro budget) like The Blair Witch Project did over 15 years ago. It's too vacuous for that. And where "Blair Witch" gave the audience clues of terror such as stick figures hanging from trees and blood soaked articles of clothing (not to mention removed teeth and hair), "Night" gives even more clues that are hard to visualize while not adding much credibility to the narrative. It's pretty frustrating.

The filmmakers also decide to revel in countless acts of buildup. They aren't being original and what's worse, they don't up the ante when it comes to scaring you silly. You wait with baited breath for something harrowing to happen but it never does. Like in Paranormal Activity, the camera in "Night" pans left and then pans right. Only in that effective, lowbrow hit, you jump out of your seat because a frightening image that you didn't see coming, lays upon you. Here, a snaggletoothed wolf is seen, a way-too-distant image of a ghost appears, and one of the characters stands comatose with blood on her hands. You think some ominous, one note sounds of horror music (pouncing in) does this thing a solid. Well you'd be wrong. Honestly, the jolts assembled are systematic and they aren't even actual jolts if you think about it. Did I feel terrified? Not in the slightest. Did I feel bored? Yup!

In conclusion, with dialogue that sounds like snobbishly gabbing high schoolers in the cool clique and scenes where cast members (in peril) don screams that seem totally phoned in, Nightlight is currently the bottom of the barrel as far as 2015 goes. I'd rather suffer through a root canal as opposed to seeing it again.

Of note: These are the actors, actresses, and directors involved in the making of "Night": Scott Beck, Bryan Woods, Shelby Young, Chloe Bridges, Carter Jenkins, and Taylor Murphy. Listen to their names. It sounds as though they are aliases or pseudonyms. Maybe they were too embarrassed to be involved in the project and didn't want their true identity associated with it. To be sure, I checked IMDb just out of sheer curiosity. I was wrong. But think about it, the fact that I initially believed this to be true goes to show you how bad Nightlight really is. Oh I almost forgot, James Miller is the sound effects editor (that's probably his birth name but it still kind of makes you wonder).

Written by Jesse Burleson

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