Review: DEAD NIGHT (2017)

Dead Night Theatrical Poster

Shot and shown at last year’s Fantastic Fest under the title Applecart, producer Brad Baruh’s (John Dies At The End, Phantasm: Ravager) first film as a director has resurfaced, (after alleged re-editing), as Dead Night. Under either title, it’s an unusual film that puts a wicked spin on the “Cabin In the Woods” genre.

James Pollack (AJ Bowen, The Sacrament, I Trapped The Devil) has cancer. So this year’s family vacation is to a rustic house in the woods, built over grounds reputed to have healing powers. Joining him is wife Casey (Brea Grant, Beyond The Gates, Bad Apples), and kids Jessica (Sophie Dalah) and Jason (Joshua Hoffman) and Jessica’s friend Becky (Elise Luthman). Things take a turn for the worse when they find a woman (Barbara Crampton We Are Still Here, Stay Out Stay Alive) unconscious in the snow. The Pollacks are about to learn that no good deed goes unpunished.

Dead Night 2

From the prologue onward we’re given hints that whatever supernatural forces might exist at the cabin they’re not benevolent. So while we’re expecting something to happen, the suddenness and ferocity of it are impressive and unexpected. From spaghetti dinner to blood feast in the flick of a switch.

Dead Night’s main twist though is how the events are presented. Flipping back and forth between the events as they happened and the recreation for a TV show “INSIDE CRIME”. The contrast between the two is always interesting and even plays into the plot at one point, even if there’s never any doubt which version you believe.

Dead Night

It’s fun seeing genre icon Crampton take a turn to the dark side. She’s completely and chillingly convincing in her role as the ambitiously evil Leslie Bison. It’s also a nice change here that it’s Casey and not her husband who heads the fight against the forces of evil. It’s a battle between two females with the men as supporting characters this time. Baruh and cinematographer Kenton Drew Johnson (John Dies At The End) create a great background for this conflict. The woods look beautiful, ice cold and menacing. Just like Crampton’s character.

Dead Night is a fun supernatural shocker with the added bonus of a favorite actress playing against type. It’s worth catching, especially if you’re in one of the cities where it gets theatrical play.

Dark Sky Films will release Dead Night to theaters and on digital/VOD on July 27, 2018.

Current Theater List (others to be added):
New York, Cinema Village
Houston, TX – Alamo Drafthouse
Winchester, VA – Alamo Drafthouse
Clinton St. Theatre/Portland, OR
Houston, TX – Alamo Drafthouse

Trailer

Jim Morazzini

Movie buff, gym rat and crazy cat guy

2 thoughts on “Review: DEAD NIGHT (2017)

  • July 28, 2018 at 1:50 PM
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    A nice change that the main character who fights the evil is female? Not really, it’s standard procedure for horror by this point. It’d be more surprising if it WAS the husband who was the main lead.

    • July 28, 2018 at 1:52 PM
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      The last person to survive is usually female, but it’s the usually the men who do most of the fighting until the last act.

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