The Overnight opens with a black fingernailed Satanist reading off incantations while generic heavy metal plays ad we hear people upstairs arguing. As something that looks like mud, or maybe something worse from a backed-up sewer pipe begins to ooze from a drain they run off.
As you’re wondering WTF that was all about we switch to views of NYC and various highways accompanied by generic pop music as Jessie (Brittany Clark, Apparition, Indiscretion), who is, of course, a social media influencer, and her architect boyfriend David (Zebedee Row, Split, Ghost in the Graveyard) head out on vacation.
A stop for coffee leads to a visit to an antique shop and an encounter with a creepy doll and an even creepier fan (Justin L. Wilson, Another Year Together, Follow Her). Then the creepy doll causes car problems that don’t seem to manifest themselves until the couple arrives at a creepy hotel.
Unfortunately very little of this creepiness manages to manifest itself on this side of the screen The stalker scene does give off some bad vibes and might have been more disturbing if I didn’t know this was a supernatural film and not a slasher. But the thing that struck me as the most bizarre was how much David proclaims his hate of social media and all it stands for, but he’s hooked up with a professional influencer. That’s far from the only time The Overnight fails to make sense, so get used to it.
Once they arrive at the hotel and are greeted by the creepy manager Salim (Rajeev Varma, Impossible Monsters, Vindaloo Empire), The Overnight does start to get a bit more interesting. Something is obviously going on, as we see Salim wander the building, including people’s rooms, making small adjustments to things and/or leaving items like a length of rope behind. Or thanking Father Betancourt (Richard Millen, Scenes from the Underground, Fort Tilden) for watching Emma (Mathilde Dehaye, After the Outbreak, The Pretenders) while delivering several hypodermics.
But even as The Overnight is trying to creep the viewer out, it’s impossible to overlook how familiar some of it feels. What seems to be a very ornate hotel, a pair of little kids who ask our protagonists to come and play with them, a writer suffering from writer’s block, you get the idea. The big problem is that neither co-directors Bobby Francavillo and Kevin Rhoades (Crazy Train, Death in the Afternoon) nor writers Mel Hagopian (Ronal the Barbarian) and Richard Harlost (Shadow of the Gun, The Good Book) have much interest in explaining just what is going on.
There seems to be some kind of time loop, with everyone repeating their deaths which all occurred at the hotel. Some seem to have been murdered, but whether separately or in a mass killing isn’t clear. However, a least one of them committed suicide. And then there’s the guy walking around with a hypodermic needle in his eye which is a recent, unplanned, development.
It all seems to be connected to a demon, the hotel’s owners, and a plan to get the souls of some of the victims back. But the how and why of it is unexplained. I get that the ritual we saw in The Overnight’s prologue summoned the demon, but why is time repeating? If all that it takes to fix things is sacrificing Jessie why was everyone else killed? How does the suicide victim fit into things?
The Overnight was filmed in 2017 as The Stay, not to be confused with this film, so it’s the third recent film I’ve reviewed that’s sat on the shelf for a while. It’s too bad it didn’t occur to somebody to work up a voiceover or something to help make sense of things. Because the hotel they filmed in has some great decore and is atmospheric, And there are some simple but effective practical effects. It would never have been a great film, but it could have been an acceptable time killer.