Night Shoot Poster

Night Shoot (2024) Review

For his debut film, Night Shoot, writer/director/actor Taylor Katsanis mixes things up a little by taking a plot, that dates back to the original found footage film Cannibal Holocaust, a group of filmmakers finds they’ve gotten themselves into a situation they may not be able to get out of, and filming it conventionally. With found footage still making good use of the plot in films like The Glenarma Tapes, can Night Shoot compete?

Park Ranger Howard (Carl W. Childers, Atlanta Vampire Movie, 6 Shots the Movie) is flipping through the radio stations on his way to work. He probably should have stopped and listened to the newscaster talking about the mass escape of psychiatric patients from a local institution. Instead, he and the two rangers sent to look for him find out about it the hard way.

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Six weeks later, TJ (Kasey O’Barr, The Day It Happened, Asking For It) who just transferred to Southeast Art Institute gets recruited to join a group of film students, Zach (Derek Evans, Queen of the South, The King of Bloody Fookin’ Britain) a director with what is referred to as an artistic temperament, chronically stoned sound guy Niko (Taylor Katsanis), Elisha (Alexia Bailey, Pride & Prejudice: Atlanta, Barney & Friends) and aspiring actress Olivia (Andrea Vertuca, Star).

Needing a project for Professor Ludvik’s (Johnny Land, The Accursed, Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.) documentary class they choose a homeless camp in the nearby woods as their subject. Unfortunately for them, the Man (Eddie Davenport, Salvage Marines, American Fighter), Woman (Truly Magyar, Life at the Resort, Birds of a Feather) and Boy (Ken Jackson, Fall Nights in China Grove, Worth the Risk) we saw in the prologue are living there as well.

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Katsanis shoots the film almost as if it’s a documentary. There’s footage of them interviewing their interviews, arguing among themselves, etc. They have no interaction with the psychos until late in the film. We do get a couple of random kills to help keep things interesting, so it’s not all talk.

The problem is that Night Shoot suffers from something that’s been the bane of many low budget films, not providing lighting for the outdoor scenes. I get that lights and a power source aren’t cheap, but footage that’s frequently so dark that it’s hard to make out what’s happening won’t make viewers happy either. It’s rarely too dark to see anything, but it’s frequently hard to tell who is on-screen and what they’re doing. Unfortunately, that includes almost all the film’s final act, as the filmmakers try to get out of the forest alive.

If you do get through that without eyestrain, Night Shift does have a nice bit of satire at the end and into the credits. Both Hollywood and film school get skewered in what is, ironically, the best part of the movie.

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As you can probably guess, that also means Night Shoot is fairly devoid of effects and gore, apart from some digital blood splatter during a daylight killing. It’s too bad because the plot, while familiar, is one that can still deliver if done right, which the script had the potential to do. Yes, it has the characters make some of the usual bad decisions, like going back for one more night’s shooting even after it’s obvious they’re in danger, but it’s far from the worst of its kind.

I can’t really recommend Night Shoot due to the problems with the film’s lighting, unless you’re nostalgic for the days of trying to make out a dark image on a dirty drive in screen. But that’s the kind of retro I don’t think too many people are looking for.

Glass House Distribution will release Night Shoot to Vudu VOD on April 3rd.

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