Today: February 22, 2024

Dead Night

Following its European Premier at Arrow Video Frightfest, Dead Night makes its way onto DVD just in time for Halloween. 

Like many of the best Arrow titles, this is very much an indie production, though one that’s bolstered by the presence of horror luminaries such as Barbara Crampton (Re-Animator), AJ Bowen (House Of The Devil) and Brea Grant (Halloween II). 

James, his wife Casey, their two kids, and a school friend, head off to a cabin in the woods to find peace and try to deal with James’ cancer. However, when they discover a stranger lying in the snow, things quickly take a turn for the weird.

Everything and anything goes in this ambitious, quirky, film from the producers of John Dies At The End. The production values are surprisingly slick, and the cast give solid performances. Crampton’s wonderfully over-the-top delivery is a delight and almost saves the movie single-handedly. 

Sadly, though, the decision to break up the story-telling with a ‘True Crime’ dramatisation of events running alongside the ‘actual’ plot makes a messy narrative. There’s little chance to build tension and knowing what’s about to happen means that you’re simply waiting for events to unfold rather than rooting for the protagonists. 

Dead Night is Brad Baruh’s first directing credit and Irving Walker’s first screenplay and what they lack in experience, they do make up for in ambition. There are surprises, a few interesting ideas, buckets of blood, and a twist at the end that will delight many. Credit where it’s due: what Dead Night does well, it does really well, attempting to breathe new life into the old cabin-in-the-woods trope. But this is a film that could have been so much more and fails more often than it succeeds. 

Paula Hammond - Features Editor

Paula Hammond is a full-time, freelance journalist. She regularly writes for more magazines than is healthy and has over 25 books to her credit. When not frantically scribbling, she can be found indulging her passions for film, theatre, cult TV, sci-fi and real ale. If you should spot her in the pub, after five rounds rapid, she’ll be the one in the corner mumbling Ghostbusters quotes and waiting for the transporter to lock on to her signal… Email: writerpaula@icloud.com

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