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DVD Review

DVD cover

Dead Night


Starring: Barbara Crampton, AJ Bowen and Brea Grant
Distributor: StudioCanal
Certificate: 18
Release Date: 08 October 2018

There are figures in the woods. Dishevelled robes and frightening half-glimpsed faces appear to serve or seek solace from a curious cone-shaped structure. James and Casey, and teenaged offspring Jessica and Jason – along with Jessica’s friend Becky – travel to a remote cabin in Oregon for a weekend break. A few curious events take place, but it isn’t until James heads outside to look for suitable wood for the fire that the night turns into a nightmare. He finds an unconscious woman in the woods. When she comes around she just wants to get to the cabin, supposedly for warmth. However, the moment she is inside she immediately outstays her welcome, eating and drinking their supplies and generally being rude and obnoxious to the point they throw her out. But she proves to be the catalyst for a series of horrific pre-planned situations. They are linked to the cone structure via a parasitic organism. Jessica strives to survive and do the right thing as her family becomes dangerously influenced. The figures in the woods tell her there is only one way to save her family. But can she trust them...

Even now I’m not certain whether this film is devilishly clever with its plot layers, twists and turns and a pervasive scent of ambiguity – or it’s simply attempting to break the world record for tributes and references to a multitude of horror films and TV. Everything from psycho-kills-the-entire-family to Cabin in the Woods via Funny Games is referenced. Even the figures in the woods have a very pagan feel, but with a possible alien reference. I have stated in other reviews that I don’t necessarily enjoy stories which are tied-up into a neat little package. Not only is it demeaning to the viewer, but life isn’t simply black and white. You don’t always get all the answers. Personally, I prefer to be left pondering the details.

That is just what this film does to you. Because there is no explanation as to the origins of the horror, and very little is understood or played-out in a completely linear fashion – it’s only logical to make your own assumptions. In reality, who knows what it’s all about. At the beginning a child is taken by the figures in the woods on behalf of the parasitic cone structure. Presumably, she becomes the annoying woman who causes all the axe frenzy madness. I assume the figures are previous women who have been taken for this role, as the entire plot seems to hinge around getting history to repeat itself. Has the mother been sent mad, or are the family really possessed by a dangerous organism? The end even has the parasite-carrying survivor going out in to the world and taking a position of power, which is straight out of Robert Heinlein’s The Puppet Masters.

It does have some unusual nice moments, one of which is the television – connected to nothing but the cone structure – playing scenes which are yet to come.

Dead Night stars Barbara Crampton. I wonder if she knows whether she appeared in a visionary new concept or a celluloid mess. I certainly don’t know, but I’m willing to give it the benefit of the doubt.


Ty Power

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