There is certainly nothing in Star Light you have not seen before: a group of attractive teens finds themselves caught in a remote setting, stalked by an unrelenting, maniacal creature. Yet, crackling production design, a skilled, youthful cast, and a coy storyline that is slow to reveal its hand, manage to pique the audience’s interest until the film wraps.
The movie seems to leave several questions unanswered, such as what exactly was that thing in the trunk? But it delivers with crisp camerawork, and a mix of seasoned and new actors all delivering beyond its modest budget, making Star Light a rote but worthy mix of horror and supernatural.
Dylan (Cameron Johnson of The Mick) is a sweet, rudderless teen who literally runs smack dab into his dream girl, pop sensation Bebe A. Love (Scout Taylor-Compton, adding another rhinestone to her current Scream Queen tiara). He rushes her to a friend’s house for help. The home belongs to his buddy Nick (Rahart Adams).
Nick’s parents are on vacation, so he is throwing a senior-year bash with all their friends, including Casey (Liana Ramirez), Sara (Chandler Rachelle), Tex (Garrett Weston), and Monty (Hagen Mills, who tragically committed suicide shortly after filming). When Anton (Bret Roberts), a mysterious well-dressed chap, appears at the house requesting they turn Bebe over to his care, things begin to escalate quickly and reveals something rather nefarious is going on.
“…Anton…appears at the house requesting they turn Bebe over to his care…”
There are countless threads to Star Light that feel abandoned or unfinished, such as the deal with Anton’s power. How did he get them? What are the ground rules of their use? Are they unlimited? Another question that pops up is, did Nick ever know what Bebe was initially running from? As the film works to wrap up quickly, it feels like many story strands were never knotted up.
But if you can push past those, Star Light deftly executes its tension and scares, even if we see them coming. Co-directors and writers Lee Cummings and Mitchell Altieri (two-thirds of “The Butcher Brothers”) skillfully stage their scenes and layer on the atmosphere. Their camera’s gaze allows us to soak in the tension-filled atmosphere.
Credit also goes to its cast, specifically Adams and Ramirez, who both anchor the film with stronger performances than those usually found in films of this stripe. Australia-born Adams, who might be best known to American audiences from Nickelodeon’s Every Witch Way or YouTube Red’s Foursome, resembles a young Tom Cruise. At the same time, Ramirez demonstrated that her years as a Power Ranger gave her adequate training to battle baddies in the horror genre. It’s also a treat to see indie horror stalwart Tiffany Shepis pop in briefly as Dylan’s struggling single mom.
How one feels about Star Light depends on the number of teens-in-peril horror films a viewer has consumed. Still, there are certainly far inferior options cluttering the on-demand catalog, and it can be appreciated for the care of the craft placed within.
"…can be appreciated for the care of the craft placed within."