On a desolate farm, 10 year old Amelia is killed by her crazy parents. 50 years later, a new family has moved onto the property and sisters Holly and Elizabeth often find themselves alone in the creepy home. To make things worse, Elizabeth's friends decide to invite themselves over for an impromptu party. Something that might not be so bad if it weren't for the fact that the psychotic family from 50 years ago have come back from the dead as blood thirsty ghouls and start picking the guests off one by one.
I just don't know anymore. I immensely enjoy the independent and low-budget horror movie world. Okay, maybe I don't immensely enjoy it since I hate everything (according to folks) but I do enjoy those kind of horror movies and have spent many o' years watching them, especially for Film Bizarro. These days, I just don't know anymore. "As Night Falls" is the latest title to be distributed by Breaking Glass Pictures and one of the more recent ones to come out of Florida's independent scene. Its cast and crew are made up entirely of familiar faces which was enough to make me want to like it. The people make me want to like it so much that I tried to convince myself that I did like the movie on some level, even though that wasn't true at all.
"As Night Falls" is about two sisters, Holly and Elizabeth, who are often left alone in their creepy, secluded home. Their mother spends all of her time working and their father passed away before getting a chance to finish remodeling the house. One night Elizabeth's friends decide to throw a party at her home and everyone seems to be enjoying themselves. That is until the spirit of a little girl shows up and informs everyone that they are going to die. That's when the girl's ghoulish parents show up and all hell breaks loose as guests are being butchered by these crazed spirits.
The movie is helmed by Joe Davison, a man most will probably recognize as the character Mark Webb from Marcus Koch's gory killer clown flick, "100 Tears". The cast is composed of a number of familiar faces, including Debbie Rochon, Raine Brown, Rod Grant, Julie Anne and even André Reissig. From the familiarity of those names and faces, I figured this was going to be an easy movie to watch. A nice ensemble piece of the independent horror community. However, the actual movie came as a surprise and not the good kind either.
"As Night Falls" is one of the most tonally challenged movies I have seen in some time. I've watched a few recently that struggled to find a balance between two tones but "As Night Falls" seemed like it had no idea what it wanted to do or what kind of movie it wanted to be. It obviously wanted to be a horror-comedy movie that kept things entertaining but…it never accomplishes that. I know I never found it entertaining because I spent the entire movie trying to figure if it was suppose to serious or satirical. As well as trying to make sense of the numerous pointless scenes of the characters doing things that had no barring on the story.
If I were to cut the scenes out that felt irrelevant, I have a feeling it would cut the movie's running time in half. The scenes are often just random bits of nonsense aiming for a laugh but what it ends up doing is throwing the entire pace off for the movie. In a way it makes everything that the movie is trying to build up, horror-wise, come to a complete stop in order for us to watch these characters doing or saying something that is suppose to be funny or entertaining. Comedy is subjective so someone could find these scenes to be funny but that doesn't change the fact that instead of being a smooth ride, the movie is very clunky from constantly stopping and starting.
The pace being off comes back to the tone issue. I cannot understand why "As Night Falls" had such a hard time finding it's footing since this was not a first-time movie for anyone. But everything and every style of horror and comedy was used in the movie. As if someone was throwing everything they could against the wall to see what would stick. The main plot of the cursed land and bloodthirsty creatures is a straight forward horror element, and at times, the movie sticks to that concept. Suddenly though, there are these cheap self-aware jokes that are thrown in where the characters are pointing out that the situation that they find themselves in is kind of like a horror movie. It doesn't stop there as they even have scenes that are so profoundly ridiculous that you'll find it hard to believe that the movie isn't a spoof. I'm still not entirely sure it wasn't. I'm not even going to get into the parts where the characters appear to be taking a page from "Buffy the Vampire Slayer".
Just to give you an example of what I'm talking about, there were two scenes in particular that were completely dumbfounding to me. The first one happens in the beginning where I character (I can't remember his name) is screwing around in his bedroom, playing with a sword, and pretending he is in some sort of samurai film. Which would have been fine except that there are actually subtitles during that scene for no reason. Then there came the scene during the big showdown between the humans and the demons where the little sister, Holly, gets hit with a shovel (at least I think it was a shovel) -- by a demon -- and goes flying straight up into the air where you see her disappear, then she comes back down, lands on top of a van, falls to the ground and then gets up and shakes it off. I don't understand how I'm suppose to take this movie seriously, as anything, with scenes like these. And that's just two examples!
But I digress, comedy and entertainment is completely subjective so I'm sure some people will find "As Night Falls" to be fun and funny. I can't though, not at all. What's worse is that I wanted to like this movie because of who was involved with it. The movie felt far too sloppy with an erratic pace and a constantly changing tone all the while trying to figure out what it wanted to do with itself. I try to find some good with these low-budget and independent horror movies, but outside some cast and crew choices, I did not enjoy this movie at all. It tried to do too much without ever accomplishing anything and wastes so much time on ridiculous and pointless scenes.