Movie Night is a horror film that has a lot going for it, but unfortunately, winds up falling short in a couple of pivotal ways. The premise is simple and straightforward enough—you have a couple is settling in for the night to watch Night of the Living Dead when suddenly everything kind of goes wrong. The Romero classic is intercut with scenes of brutal violence and torture. What does it mean? What is happening, and why?
I won’t spoil it. I feel like I’ve spoiled enough in my plot synopsis alone. Movie Night is shot well. It has these intense, lingering scenes that drum up feelings of dread and doom. Still, the film introduces two characters and reveals no history nor explanation for their attitude towards one another. Ultimately this made me as an audience member little more than ambivalent to whether or not they survive the story.
“…a couple is settling in for the night to watch Night of the Living Dead when suddenly everything kind of goes wrong.”
The film begins with Chris (Skeeta Jenkins) asking his date Rachel (Natalie Jones) to watch his copy of Night of the Living Dead. First off, the 1968 seminal horror film is a weird choice for a date movie. As iconic and influential as it is, Chris and Rachel do not seem to have a comfortability level that would make the Romero movie a prime choice for a romantic evening. Nothing is explicitly stated about the two, but they’re depicted as having an uneasy relationship. I don’t know if they’re newly dating and nervous towards one another if they’re married and over each other, or if the just met up for a Tinder date and it’s not working out.
A little bit of exposition to explain who they are, and their relationship would have been beneficial. Natalie Jones plays Rachel with apparent reluctance, complete with a long stare into the bathroom mirror. What does it mean? Is she working up the courage to dump Chris’s a*s? Tell him she’s pregnant? WHAT IS HAPPENING? We get no explanation, just weird moments between the two characters that clearly show they are not comfortable together, and Rachel is not into him at all.
"…over-reliance on Night of the Living Dead to pad out its runtime."