Back of the Night tells the story of young couple Monic (Jenni Squair) and Rebecca (Leah Egan) during a run-of-the-mill date that just so happens to be on Christmas. The two speak of existential subjects, and question one another as their date quickly gets out of hand. Rebecca feels the need to travel outside of their apartment to the street where she can have some space and a minute to think for herself. On her way down, she encounters a series of unique individuals who will change her night from bad to worse. As she runs the gambit of abrasive characters, her already dismal thoughts on the world will begin to develop into something even stronger.
Valentyn Korotkevych’s Back of the Night opens with dark, ominous music that, even without any context, enlightens viewers to the fact that something has gone terribly wrong with the couple in question. Audiences understand that somber undertones hang in the balance even if they aren’t yet able to see them. In these opening seconds, nothing happens other than the music and some background noise, leaving audiences to fend for themselves in deciphering what, outside of the clear dismality of the night, is taking place. In many ways, viewers are subjected to a bleak nothingness that transcends the story, leaving them feeling empty and desolate, allowing everyone watching to better understand the state of the characters in the film.
“On her way down, she encounters a series of unique individuals who will change her night from bad to worse.”
The film, in general, does not deliver much other than subtle hints and breadcrumbs that lead audiences to their own conclusions. Yet, Korotkevych’s approach to Back of the Night does such a wonderful job with his subtleties that viewers, even if they struggle at first, find a way to understand the answer he’s attempting to lead them toward. While the gray areas present in the film never fully dissipate, as Rebecca and Monic’s story progresses, things do become increasingly more black and white.
Furthermore, as the story picks up speed and audiences become more privy to the underlying themes of Back of the Night, they are forced to ask themselves, “has the world gone mad, or have I?” As this crazy world makes its way to the forefront of the story, everyone involved becomes a part of the nonsensical acts and depressing emotions present in the most horrifying parts of Christmas night.
"…subjected to a bleak nothingness that transcends the story..."