Years ago, I was able to crank out review after review, on almost a daily basis. Lately, it’s become extremely hard to find the time to do so, naturally causing movies to pile up on my shelf. When I do find a spare hour or two, I’ll grab whichever one from the pile looks the most interesting, usually based on cover art alone. Fortunately for me, Brad Baruh’s Dead Night was one hell of a movie to pick at random!
Casey (Brea Grant, Showtime’s “Dexter”) takes her family to a remote cabin, hoping to use the environment’s healing factors to help cure her husband, James (AJ Bowen, The Signal, A Horrible Way to Die). After finding a strange woman in the woods (Barbara Crampton, Re-Animator), and resuscitating her, the family’s healing vacation quickly turns to a bloodbath of mayhem and murder.
It is easy to tell that the budget for this one is rather limited. That didn’t stop first-time director, Brad Baruh, and the rest of his team from pulling out all of the stops, however. The cast, as tiny as it is, is filled with some incredible talent. With his roles in You’re Next and The Sacrament, AJ Bowen quickly became one of my favorite actors in this new era of fear cinema. His performance in Dead Night is no different, as he perfectly portrayed the father of this vacationing family. His on-screen wife is played by Brea Grant who I know from the hit television series, “Dexter.” Grant also does a tremendous job playing the loving mother/wife, who then happens to go on to be known as “Axe Mom…” more on that in a bit. Of course, rounding out the cast is none other than genre favorite, Barbara Crampton, who does a remarkable job of playing the odd antagonist of the film.
Dead Night is a movie that came out of left field and should honestly be seen by any horror fan saying there is no originality left in the genre. It is hard to pin down just what sub-genre it falls into, as there is quite a bit going on here. The best way to describe it would be to take the likes of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Splinter, Evil Dead, and your favorite werewolf flick, and throw them into a blender. Then and only then will you remotely come close to the final product that is this film.
Written by Irving Walker, Dead Night plays out like a straight-forward horror flick, except for the interesting addition of scenes from a true crime, “Dateline” type news show that portrays the events occurring in the “healing house.” While this news show, entitled “Inside Crime,” kind of spoils what is going to happen inside the house, Casey murdering her entire family and all, it still manages to leave enough curiosity for us, the viewers, to question, “okay, how does everything get to that point? how does the loving Casey become the family-slaughtering ‘Axe Mom’?”
I can’t say much more about this film without getting into some serious spoiler territory, so I’ll try to wrap things up here. Dead Night, while borrowing aspects from other films, is extremely original; it features a talented cast of performers — some who you will recognize from other work I’ve mentioned and some you won’t — and the kills are extremely satisfying. There is some CGI used in the film, but most of what you see is executed using practical effects by the awesome people at Bitemares, Inc. There is some gruesome stuff here folks, so I know you won’t be disappointed.
Learn from my mistake of putting this one off and don’t wait any longer to grab yourself a copy of Dead Night. You won’t regret it. It is available on DVD and digital now from Dark Sky Films.
I give this one 4 ripped off jaws out of 5.