And whatever you do, don’t go into the church!
I’ve talked recently about found-footage style films and the remarkable similarities between them, their lack of originality with each passing movie and so many negatives that passes, and yet they have a remarkable ability to make you keep you going back and watching more of them. Not many genres that are have nearly ever film panned by critics and fans alike, and yet still have people going back for more.
Much like comedy, horror films are always under scrutiny as they are designed to provoke a specific emotion. You can always tell if a comedy isn’t funny because you don’t find it amusing, and with horrors you know it’s not a good film.
I was recently asked via email what my top 20 films are, and I will be writing an article about that soon, and when it’s released you will notice a distinct lack of horror films. Horror films are getting worst and worse as time goes on and I genuinely can’t recall the last time I went to the cinema and watched a truly decent horror film. “As Above, So Below” was reasonable, even making into my Top 10 Films of 2014 List, but other than that it’s a rarity for a reasonably enjoyable horror film these days.
To sum this up, there was a video by WatchMojo a few days ago about the top 10 horror films of the 2000s and terrible, terrible films such as “Paranormal Activity” and “Drag Me To Hell” were included, any “Top 10” list involving those two can’t be taken seriously. It highlights how few decent horror films there are these days when those two are included in a “Top 10” for a ten year period.
Robin (Young) is invited to play games based on flashlights in a supposedly haunted forest by Ben (Hewer), who she has an infatuation with. The night starts off with various childish games, such as truth or dare, but also several more dangerous activites, such as trying to outrun a train. When playing a game of what is effectively hide and seek, Ben starts getting stalked by an invisible force and finds several half eaten rabbits. As he explores the area, he encounters a cliff and when he turns around, a dark figure scares him off of the cliff and he is impaled on a rock.
Meanwhile, Robin has gotten lost and soon starts having visions and is lured into cave after she believes she sees Ben walking into it. Seconds later she is overwhelmed by bats and a figure starts chasing her. She escapes the cave but is quickly injured by a bear-trap. After limping around, she finds Nia (Bridges) and the two struggle to survive against the figure that is chasing them.
Robin soon believes she has found her way out but it turns out be false-hope and as the rest of the group are slowly killed off, she has to admit to her guilt over the death of her friend Ethan.
Is there any originality to the film?
No, there isn’t an ounce of originality with the film whatsoever. It’s so incredibly clichéd and in many ways it feels like a complete rip off of the Slenderman games in the sense that you enter the wooded area, armed only with a torch. Everything seems perfectly normal at first and then after you do a specific event, something starts to stalk you on an increasingly intense level and in the end you realise that you have no chance of escaping. There’s nowhere you can hide from this force and the only way to slow down it’s progress towards you is to turn your flash light off, but by doing that you effectively give up any hope of finding what you need to escape.
It is near enough literally a rip off of Slenderman without having the decency to pretend otherwise. The difference between this film and the Slenderman games is that the games are genuinely terrifying. You will break into a cold sweat playing those, you won’t with this film.
One thing that the film does try that is different is that it’s a found-footage style film without actually seemingly involving any handheld cameras. The entirety of the film is shown from Robin’s torch and it’s certainly usual because more often than not you’re viewing it from her waist level. The first person perspective doesn’t really worth horror films though, especially found-footage style films, because everything is just predictable.
I found myself not being even remotely scared once, and even though I will openly admit to jump scares getting me on a regular basis, Night Light didn’t once make me even jump. It is extremely predictable and because of this it fails miserably at being a horror. It doesn’t help that it’s full of clichés and yes, as I have done a few times in the past, I am going to list all the ridiculous horror clichés that this film uses….
- A character hearing a noise, goes to investigate it, turns around and the thing that caused the noise is now standing behind them.
- Robin shouting that she refuses to go into a cave after someone….goes in anyway.
- Chris giving everyone the rules and legends of the woods, including specifically stating not to go into the church and start praying…..and what does he do later on in the film?
- The characters all ignore the obvious bad signs in the church that indicate all is now right, including an upside down cross. If I saw a church with an upside down cross, the last thing I would do in there is pray.
- A character has their vision impaired for whatever reason (blindfold, eyes closed, etc) and a shadow moves over them
- One character is talking whilst they have their back to another character and something happens to that character during that time.
- A shadowy figure moving around in the background
- A character manages to survive underwater for far longer than any normal person would after exhaling all of their oxygen after the first few seconds
- Before the main danger of the film begins, one character almost dies whilst trying to impress people that she doesn’t even like.
I could go on but those speak for themselves. It’s about as far from an original concept as you can get in a film and it’s full of characters that you don’t really care about. Ben dies within the first few minutes of the film, Nia is shown to be nothing more than a shallow person with lips like a toilet plunger and no positive character attributes, and Chris and Amelia disappear after the first 15 minutes until the final 5 minutes of the film. The film focuses far too much on one character and her experiences on the night, it doesn’t try and develop a single other character and for this, it’s hard to really care when they are dying.
Robin isn’t exactly a compelling character by any stretch of the imagination. She is literally only on the trip because of her attraction to one of the males in the group and right from the off you get an understanding of how idiotic her character is. She arrives at the edge of the forest before hand and it’s still daylight, yet she turns her flash light on there and then. It’s really hard to take a character seriously when she’s only there to get a boyfriend and can’t figure out that shining a flash light during daylight isn’t going to do a lot.
Arguably the most bizarre aspect to the character of Robin is her superhuman healing. In roughly the middle of the film she sets into a bear-trap and her leg is heavily breathing. She can barely walk after that but then after a quick sleep in the middle of the forest, she is all of a sudden able to walk without any problems whatsoever. No, just no. Bear-traps are designed to cause damage for more than just a few hours. If your leg has been caught in a bear-trap, nerves have been severe, there is a chance your bone will break, depending on the strength of your leg, and you will lose blood quickly, you won’t be fine after a short sleep.
So after all of this negativity, is there anything that I can positively about the film? Well there is one scene about 3/4 of the way throughout where Nia and Robin randomly stumble across what are effectively street lights. They work on motion sensors and as they move through the row, lights that they’ve gone past turn off. When they get to the end Robin and Nia start talking before the latter develops a terrified look on her face. When the camera turns around the furthest light is back on, and then the lights very slowly move closer and closer to the pair, all before a demonic figure pounces up and chases them. I did think that scene was reasonably well done, but that’s the only positive I can think of for this otherwise poor film.
This is a horror film that offers precisely nothing knew. Everything has been seen before and there is not a single unique idea. Everything is a rip off of something from another and because of this I couldn’t get behind this at all. Then again, it doesn’t do itself any favours with it’s very scare-free attitude. As I mentioned above, even the jump-scares don’t work.
One of the main problems is that there are five characters, one dies after just a few minutes, two disappear after 15 minutes until the final five minutes, one is a very shallow and uninteresting person with a toilet plunger for lips, and the main character just isn’t that strong. She is there and even after watching the film, despite knowing that she caused a depressed teenager to kill herself, there just isn’t anything going on at all.
Don’t waste your time. It’s not awful but at the time of writing, it has a score of 4.8/10 on IMDB, and I still think that is too high.