Jesus, I hope I don’t lose my job bartending over at the Blue Oyster because “They Only Come Out At Night” sure makes the office temp world look nightmarishly dreary. Then again, for a feature about a girl working a data entry job at a blood bank, it sure does have quite a bit of sex and nudity. I like sex and nudity. Maybe life as a temp wouldn’t be so bad after all, or maybe I’m just full of s**t.
Honesty, a young working girl, gets ready for her first day on a new data entry temp job at a blood bank. She cleans up, gives her husband a kiss and is on her way. Upon arriving at the office, we’re immediately stuck with that horrible and all too familiar feeling of uneasiness on the first day of a new job as Honesty is confronted with not being able to get into the office, rude co-workers and a new system to learn. A couple of days into the job, she’s asked by her supervisor if she can work the graveyard shift. Being a new employee, Honesty is a pushover and she accepts. Arriving on the new shift, she is immediately introduced to the dreary, lonely and quirky graveyard shift world. This is a world where the socially inept dwell, where employees pass their boring lunch breaks by playing musical chairs and where there’s always a couple making out in some dark corner of the building. The graveyard shift turns people into h***y fiends in this film as Honesty joins the salacious goings on by fantasizing about having sex with one of her co-workers. It’s this temptation, her loneliness and her confusion as to her lot in life that estranges her from her husband. This gives her room to actually fool around with the object of her lust, but this only winds up confusing her more and life on the graveyard continues to get stranger.
It seems pretty clear that director Dave Lawler must’ve done some hard time as a graveyard temp and hated it. I’ve never worked a temp job, but I have worked a graveyard shift and I think only a person who has worked in such a dreary atmosphere with the oddest assortment of people could really set forth the empty space-station void that this shot on video feature captures. The atmosphere for most of the film is similar to “Alien” and “Dark Star” where everything and everyone seems so cold, lonely and distant. But still, the first half of the film is peppered with tongue in cheek humor, making for a fairly entertaining watch. However, “They Only Come Out At Night” suffers from what so many low budget shot on video features suffer from – frequently inaudible dialogue. Too often does it sound like these actors have recorded their dialogue at the bottom of a well. I wish more filmmakers would acknowledge this as a big problem and do their best to rectify the situation for their production. Now, if it’s just that you can’t afford decent audio equipment, then you gotta do the best with what you got, but that doesn’t include blaring music over your already inaudible actors’ dialogue. I can’t believe how often this happens. That just twists my nuts in a knot.
Anyways, once Honesty starts toying with the idea of cheating on her husband, the film nosedives straight into boring lamentation. Honesty hates her job and her current relationship and this is shown through a series of cheeseball dream and fantasy sequences, long mopes about the office building and rants of unhappiness. Hey, where’s the quirky film I started watching? This is no fun. Honesty’s personal hell is overstated. Clearly, this should’ve been a short piece. Too frequently it feels like Lawler is trying to stretch this material to fit into a feature length run time. I also think a shorter piece also would’ve done the goofy ending a little better service. After having to wade through an entire feature, not only does the ending come off as goofy, but also just plain stupid.