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Review: Devil’s Night: Dawn of the Nain Rouge (2020)

Devil’s Night, the night before Halloween. A night for pranks and mischief in many places. But for many years taken to destructive extremes in the city of Detriot. The Nain Rouge (French for “red dwarf”) is a legendary creature of the Detroit, Michigan area. Its appearance is said to bring bad luck. Director Sam Logan Khaleghi and co-writer Aaron Russman have combined the two for Devil’s Night: Dawn of the Nain Rouge. Is this the dawn of a new franchise, or just one and done?

Billie Jean Finnick (Jesi Jensen, Abstruse, Dark Iris) traded the military for a career in law enforcement when she returned home to the Detroit suburb of Lake Orion. Along with Detective O’Connor (Nathan Mathers, brother of Eminem/Marshall Mathers) she finds herself investigating a string of murders and mutilations. The only witness claiming it was the work of a creature with glowing eyes.

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Could this have something to do with the theft of a ceremonial Native American knife from a Detroit museum? Or is it just a grisly turf war between local gangs?

Devil’s Night: Dawn of the Nain Rouge is another film that isn’t sure of what it wants to be. It opens like a horror film and we see the creature. Then it turns into a police procedural and character study of Finnick and her guilt over the death of a friend who joined the military with her.

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Khaleghi said in interviews he intended for the film to cross genres. It might have worked if he hadn’t done it so clumsily. If you’re going to push the police angle, why give the creature’s existence away at the beginning? It kills most of the mystery.

Finnick’s PTSD isn’t handled much better. We find out about it when the father of her dead friend just happens to be hanging out drinking beer at her grave when she shows up to investigate a murder. And why was her unit in Eastern Europe, and who were they shooting at? It feels grafted on to give her character some backstory and conflict.

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Somewhere around the hour mark, Devil’s Night: Dawn of the Nain Rouge remembers it’s also a horror film and brings the title demon back. It doesn’t really help. It’s so poorly done, it’s more laughable than scary. And having it wear a hoodie doesn’t help. Nor do scenes such as Detective Nightingale (Grover McCants, Wronged) firing off shot after shot in a hospital and nobody showing up to see what’s happening.

Failing as a horror film as well as a police film, Devil’s Night: Dawn of the Nain Rouge doesn’t have much to offer anyone. Although viewers might find some distraction trying to spot rappers Obie Trice and Swifty McVay as well as Indian actor and politician Napolean.

Devil’s Night: Dawn of the Nain Rouge is available to stream via Cinedigm.

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