Movie Night Image

The other issue I have with the film is its over-reliance on Night of the Living Dead to pad out its runtime. It felt like half the movie was just dedicated to watching footage from that movie on Chris’s TV. It would have been better to take that time to set up who Chris and Rachel are to one another, and why we should care. Why did Chris choose Night of the Living Dead anyway? Is there a sinister reason? Is he sick of watching the movies Rachel picks, and he wants to attend one of his childhood favorites? Does he think the film might scare her and force cause to physically cozy up to him a bit more? I know this is short, and it’s only about seven minutes long.

Yet, I’ve seen shorts that expertly set up their characters and either make these questions irrelevant or explain them well enough for the audience to willingly go along for the ride. Completely ignoring that budgets are a thing and film making isn’t easy in any sense of the word, I feel like this short would benefit greatly by being longer. Take out the public domain Night of the Living Dead stuff, or at least drastically tone it down, and give us more information so we can understand and root for the characters. Movie Night has the horror parts mastered, but it really hurts in the character department.

“…has the horror parts mastered, but it really hurts in the character department.”

With those criticisms out of the way, the film is very well acted. Skeeta Jenkins and Natalie Jones deliver their lines with confidence and believability. The shining star of this film is Carson Baillie’s cinematography. The way the camera pans and holds on certain things really sets up an atmosphere of suspense and foreboding terror. In some ways, Movie Night reminded me of a Hitchcock film, which is obviously exceedingly high praise.

Even with my issues about the characters being undefined, I really enjoyed this film. I’d love to see what writer-director Matt could do with a higher budget and a longer running time. I feel like Baillie and Rosenblatt will do a lot of great stuff down the road, but it pains me to say that this one didn’t fully land as big as it could have.

Movie Night (2020)

Directed and Written: Matt Rosenblatt

Starring: Natalie Jones, Skeeta Jenkins, etc.

Movie score: 7/10

Movie Night Image

"…over-reliance on Night of the Living Dead to pad out its runtime."

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