There’s really a lot of goodies for we horror fans coming out of Ireland lately; the Emerald Isle has certainly been a good source of new indie horror for me the last couple years. They really have their own flavor when it comes to flicks from the dark side; films like Citadel, Tin Can Man, Isolation, Outcast, From The Dark, The Canal…and that’s just hitting the high spots.
One of the proprietors of this trend is writer/director/producer Gerard Lough, known for his short films like Deviant, Ninety Seconds, and an adaptation of Stephen King’s The Boogeyman. I had the good fortune to be able to check out his first foray into the feature film world, Night People.
A couple of…er…professionals make their way into a deserted home, and it’s not long before their conversation lets us know that their purpose here is not on the up-and-up; their intent is the destruction of the property, a cog in the wheel of an insurance scam. They have a third man on the team, though he’s not present: a computer hacker. He’s going to ensure all cameras and surveillance in the neighborhood is disabled temporarily to cover their act and escape — the catch is, he can only do it once an hour, and he’s already had to do it to cover their entrance. Thus, the pair have some time to kill, and to fill the silent darkness, Mike, the older, more experienced of the two, suggests they trade “scary stories”.
Kicking off the exchange, he regales the younger man, Luke, with a story of an ancient artifact found by a rather selfish individual, whose true colors become revealed when his partner, studying the device, determines that it’s too dangerous to be used for profit — and the conflict between responsibility and self-gain turns ugly…and lethal. When it’s his turn, Luke tells his tale of a woman who, trying to better herself in her “niche profession” as one who pairs those with similar sexual fetishes for pay, attempts to align herself with a customer that will become a lucrative, exclusive client, pulling her up from the dreck that she’s lived with for so long — but at a price that may be more than she can bear. As the time for stories closes and the moment of their criminal act draws near, memories of both the men and the house itself are revealed, and we find that the strands that connect “Night People” can be deadly indeed…
As with Lough’s other works that I’ve seen, out of the box I’m quite impressed with his visual style; though clearly influenced by Tony Scott’s The Hunger, Lough still manages to make the look his own, his choices of angles, contrast, and clever manipulation of light sources creating both a noir vibe as well as a spooky, melancholy background for the characters to inhabit. Often, only the performances of his actors and the monochromatic palettes of intense scenes is all that’s required to create the tension and feeling of dreadful anticipation — quite a coup for one working within a budget, and the result is a film that feels personal, intimate, and coldly spooky. Speaking of his actors, although there are a couple of shaky moments, overall the cast acquits themselves quite nicely. Some standouts were Claire Blennerhasset in the role of Faustina, the modern escort-provider for those with — shall we say, odd tastes — she absolutely sold me on the frustrated character, captured by her lifestyle yet so desperate to leave it that she would sell her soul…Jack Dean-Shepherd, playing Luke, delivers an impressively nuanced portrayal of a man with a past that haunts him, though he’s trying to bury it…and Michael Parle, as the older shady character of Mike, maintains a level of poise that makes him likable, yet radiating a sinister aura, like something dangerous is always just below the surface.
Though these performances stuck out for me, without fine supporting performances by actors like Sarah Louise Carney, Eoin Lahey, Aidan O’ Sullivan, and the rest of the cast, the overall impact would have been greatly lessened.
My only issue with the film, really, was the story itself; that’s not to say it was bad, I just found so many elements blurred the lines somewhat — things happened in such a way that I got confused once or twice as to who was who, and what story was being told. The ending, too, was vague, leaving me wondering just how interconnected all these tales were — this may well have been Lough’s intention, keeping the audience off-balance, but to me it left the story feeling a little incomplete — it was like several good short films bundled together with a thread that was often tenuous. Still, it wasn’t enough to ever lose my interest, and as with his short films, this ambiguity actually left me thinking about it after the credits rolled, wanting more of the story — this is, of course, the aim of any good short, but with a feature it’s not quite as welcomed.
All of that said, I have to say I enjoyed the experience, and I think it foreshadows a bold future for Gerard Lough — for a first feature, I feel he brought something worthwhile to the screen. Fine tuning his craft as he is, I believe he’ll perfect feature-length productions as he has the short film medium, and we’ll be hearing his name a lot in the future.
NIGHT PEOPLE WILL HAVE ITS THEATRICAL RELEASE IN IRELAND NOVEMBER 13TH
JUST CLICK HERE
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