Tuesday, June 24, 2014

'Night Things' (Movie Review)

It's REALLY difficult to find Night Things via a Google search. Do you know how many horror movies have the words "night" and "thing" in the title? Hint: A LOT. Chances are good you've never heard of this low budget flick, which is a shame because its one of the best independent horror releases I've seen in quite a while.

Night Things tells the story of Alex, who is caught in a time-space vortex created by her evil abusive grandpa tinkering with ancient Mexican demon technology. No, seriously. She's holed up in a rural cabin trying to find a way home before the malevolent "night things" murder her...wait for it...in the night. Eventually Haley, a (convenient) physics student arrives through the vortex on her bicycle and the two hatch a plan to escape before some tar drooling maniacs in robes can bury them alive as sacrifices.

When a movie draws heavily from its influences, only one of two things happens. Viewers either think it's a derivative piece of crap, or hail it as a wonderful homage to films of the past. It's an odd phenomenon I attribute to the presentation. Night Things totally nails the delivery, which renders any of its missteps forgivable.

First, I want to have a high-five marathon with whoever decided to film this with a Super 16 camera. THANK YOU. Thank you for using actual film instead of convenient digital technology that makes low budget movies look like poorly shot home videos. The grainy warmth of the media goes a long way in setting the tone of the movie, and adds an eerie wash over the entire proceeding. It also has the added benefit of making low budget practical effects look better than they are, where high def digital cameras expose every tiny flaw. OK, I've filled my indie filmmaking PSA quota for the month now.

Second, I love the fact that the story in Night Things is totally unapologetic. It lifts concepts from Evil Dead, Phantasm, and even The Langoliers then slickly meshes those ideas into its own story. You'll clearly recognize them, but you won't care because you're being entertained. There are creepy troll people called "Lures" running around in brown robes, first person camera chase scenes, and weird pillars that form a soul battery vortex into another dimension. It's like a Sam Raimi/Don Coscarelli highlight reel, and I loved every minute of it. The only thing it was missing was a Bronson Pinchot cameo.

I don't want to get into spoiler territory here, suffice to say that Night Things doesn't hand hold. It explains just enough to keep the plot moving without the ham-fisted over analysis that so many indie horror movies fall prey to. Do I care WHY there are nocturnal demons in that vortex? Of course not, and Night Things knows that. It also features some solid acting, legitimately great jump scares, and a really great twist ending.

OK, I've gone on long enough about this movie. It's a hidden gem in the massive indie horror landscape and anyone who loves movies like Phantasm or bizarre sci-fi horror in general should check it out!

Grade: A-
Reviewed via DVD. Running time 91 MIN.

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