The Blacklight is director Nick Snow’s sophomore feature-length motion picture. Co-written by Snow and Brooks Russell, the science fiction-horror-drama-action-comedy is not short on ambition, that’s for sure. Can the filmmaker combine all these disparate elements into a cohesive whole, or has his reach exceeded his grasp?
There’s a lot (a lot!) going on, so for simplicity’s sake, the plot synopsis is going to boil things down to their essence. Danny (Grant Lancaster) is a landscaper with a shady past. Soon enough, he falls back into a life of crime at the behest of Liam (Brooks Russell), who he tried to rob. So Danny and Liam hatch a plan, alongside the quick-tempered Kit (Corey Scott Rutledge), to burgle a mansion just up the road.
Of course, things don’t go according to plan. Some people end up dead, and the trio of thieves winds up with an ancient robe used in a mystical ceremony every nine years. The robe has certain abilities which Danny’s old friend, the insane Lucky (Richard Templeton), wants for himself. Now, Danny must contend with the mafia and Lucky while figuring out how to keep Hannah (Samantha Aneson), who is investigating her dad’s death, safe.
The Blacklight is akin to a Lovecraftian crime caper. It’s filled with cosmic horror imagery, though the story is more involving when it focuses on the characters. Running a lengthy 2 hours and 8 minutes, give or take, the movie is only occasionally creepy. The atmosphere never truly becomes frightening, though the action is great. Plus, some scenes go on too long, such as a bit about needing a signature and a tattoo of it. At first, some tension is built and felt. But one too many fakeouts about when Danny gets to meet the crime boss means the scene loses momentum. There’s an extended scene where someone gets a phone call. They’re about to leave for someone else’s place. The two on the phone repeat the same thing over and over to the point of tedium.
“The robe has certain abilities which Danny’s old friend…wants…”
However, this is not a kiss of death. The solid characterizations and superb action make up for the overly long sequences. When Danny finally meets Kit, whose last name is Viper, a great back-and-forth ensues about what that means. Did he make it up? When Hannah finds out the truth about her dad, her devastation is felt.
On top of that, the comedy of The Blacklight lands almost every time. While a lowlife, Danny isn’t evil. Instead, his hesitant nature to do abhorrent things often rubs up against true wickedness, resulting in some humorous moments. Then add on the lore of the robe, and one gets a very original story populated with engaging characters.
To that end, the entire cast is clearly having fun. While some lines are a bit rushed, especially regarding the lead henchman, overall, everyone does a decent job. Lancaster and Aneson share nice chemistry together and imbue their respective characters with charm. Templeton is genuinely terrifying as the crazed Lucky, who makes no bones about killing anyone. This film is a solid stepping stone for every actor to stretch their legs and hone their craft.
The Blacklight is an exciting fusion of sci-fi, cosmic horror, and action. While the creep factor takes a backseat, the action is top-notch. The visuals, both the effects and cinematography, punch well above their weight, making for an epic looking indie feature. The story is highly original and ambitious, though that does mean several scenes go on too long. Still, there’s a lot to admire and appreciate here.
For more information about The Blacklight, visit its Dashford Media page.
"…an exciting fusion of sci-fi, cosmic horror, and action."