DVD Movie Review: Dark Night

By Thom Compton 03.11.2017

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Dark Night (UK Rating: 12)

It's hard to watch the news these days, it seems. While there will inevitably be a story about a dog saving a baby or a suburban autumn festival, these stories don't stick the way tragedy does. Everywhere from California to Syria, attacks take the lives of innocent people, and leave much of the population in fear. One such attack was carried out in Aurora, Colorado, when James Holmes walked into a movie theatre, and began indiscriminately shooting movie patrons. Dark Night is, per director Tim Sutton, not about James Holmes, and for the most part he's absolutely right. However, at the end of the day, Dark Night tackles a terrible tragedy, but comes away as wildly underwhelming. The movie lands on DVD across the UK via Thunderbird Releasing on 13th November.

There is nothing sensational about Dark Night. A slow moving, despite its short run time of 82 minutes, series of vignettes, many of which are completely devoid of dialogue, Dark Night manages to be less offensive for what it is discussing, and more offensive for how it discusses it. The film is meant to show the lives of several inhabitants of a small Florida town, leading up to the atrocity that the film is centred upon. However, this results in a film lacking much substance, and ends up coming off more like a student art flick.

The acting is merely okay, with some of the performances being quite good, and others being painfully bad. As the film spends most of its run time jumping between each of these characters, their lack of dialogue feels out of place. Why is no one talking? The few characters with substantial dialogue, save for one, do not get enough screen time to leave a lasting impression. This certainly doesn't make you empathise with any of the characters, although it does manage to make them relatable.

This is where Dark Night excels. This is a real town in Florida, and every character feels like it. Between the silent heavily tanned former soldier and the delinquent kids smoking in the parking lot of the movie theatre, everything feels real. This means that, on the rare occasion Sutton allows it, tension actually works. One scene involving a guitar lesson actually feels nerve wracking, but moments like this are rare and brief.

For a feature that doesn't want to be about James Holmes, it sure loves referencing him. In one scene his court case in on television, in another one of the characters puts on a Batman mask. References like these are plentiful, and one of the characters even bares a strong resemblance to the mass shooter. It's hard to imagine why these are included. Perhaps it's the film makers shouting down at you, "Look what we did there! Aren't we slick?!" Unfortunately no, it's not slick; it's mostly tacky.

The remainder is watching people kind of exist. Despite some questionable shots of female butts, that offer absolutely nothing to the story mind you, the cinematography is merely passable. One weird segment is shot like a Google Earth display, as it can be assumed the killer is trying to figure out the best path to and from the theatre. This adds nothing, aside from a slight neck cramp when you do your best curious dog impression.

Rated 2 out of 10

Very Bad

Dark Night feels desultory, as though it was shot without any real blueprint. Instead, it is a collection of boring and empty moments from people's lives, framed around a massacre. The worst part is this makes it sound like it's trying to participate in a conversation it's woefully unprepared for. There's little to really enjoy about this film, and by the time it's over, it's easy to feel like the time indulging in it might have been better spent doing, largely, anything else.

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