AGAINST THE NIGHT (2017)
Against the Night must have been a passion project for Brian Cavallaro. He worked as the film’s director, writer, cinematographer and one of its producers. Against the Night is a psychological thriller centering on a group of friends who are intent on filming a ghost hunting show at an abandoned prison. When Hank, the lead cameraman, disappears, everyone starts pointing fingers, until they realize they may not be alone. After a theatrical run late last year, Gravitas Ventures and Ball Four Productions will release the film digitally on March 27.
Cavallaro put on a master class of how to create a horror film on a limited budget. You get a cast of attractive people who are capable of acting scared and the best one or two become your survivors. You keep things dark because it helps to build tension, and as a bonus, it distracts from how the budget impacted both the practical and CGI effects. Against the Night was filmed primarily indoors, which allowed him more control over everything involved in filming. It was also shot at a pre-existing, character filled location, in this case, Philadelphia’s Holmesburg Prison, which was built in 1896 and closed its doors 23 years ago.
When you take all of the smart choices into account, does that mean we have an equally great final product? Not quite, unfortunately. I found the film entertaining and I enjoyed all of the characters except for Dan. He had some ok moments, but Josh Cahn’s portrayal of an intoxicated person had me wishing he would be the first to go. Darkness can be a smart play, but this film was so dark that it hindered some scenes. When you watch this movie, make sure it’s at night with all the lights off. There was also too much action that takes place off screen, people frequently get attacked in the shadows or even in unknown places where we can’t even guess what happened.
I think some people will be drawn in by seeing that Frank Whaley (Luke Cage, Pulp Fiction) is attached to the film, but unless he was doing someone a favor, I would have preferred that his salary went towards other things and really round off some of the rougher edges. When you look at the landscape of the horror genre, and how the market is flooded with low budget films, this is easily in the top tier. It has some issues, but it is in the top 10% of its class. In the end, this is a highly watchable film. It is entertaining, smartly produced and over in a scant 86 minutes. It’s worth turning on during a quiet night at home.
by James Lindorf