7 Nights of Darkness (2011) – By Baron Craze

Allen Kellogg took on many roles for his first directing and written horror feature as a common trait for many independent filmmakers, and he stars in the film as the character Carter, with his creation lingering in the ghost genre, and dropping into the sub-genre of Found Footage. The film sets in six-reality television show contestants in an abandoned asylum, enough said; however there are few catches, the individuals must stay 7 nights, and complete missions and survive, sadly none do, and only the house wins.

This tends to be the common set-up for the found footage genre, reality shows, big prize money and paranormal activities, but it shows another element the greed and vanity of the aspiring contestants. As the film progresses we, the audience, learn of the plights and needs for the money in a society of wealth which creates opportunities and the lack of results is disastrous from health to outlook on life. The result of the program, no one survives and an editor pieces the footage together for a network special, and informs the public of the tragedy so the eye candy of carnage cycle continues. The movie contains, a bit of over acting, and the thoughts on that might be to portray the characters as real as possible, hence the over talking of others and the constant screaming and shouting. One must not forget in a haunted place, the Ring-like girl (Haley Moskowitz) must appear, and this time accompanied with a ghostly woman, (Julie Tylicki), and surround the guests with ambient sounds and creepy scenes with the power of suggestions.

The problem with the found footage genre, it falls into the grouping of trying to recreate The Blair Witch Project, a great marketing stunt, limited information, a cheap website, missing person posts (all fake), and the best aspect the actors, all unknown, and kept the ruse up as long as possible. But the films now, have known actors in them or at least those who go on to a new film, while supposedly, their corpses lay rotting in a ghosts paranormal world. The solution is to create a dummy list of actors, with aliases, but not linked their official IMDB page; thereby you create a false but believable world.  The names lead to dead end social pages. This sub-genre falls apart faster when you list the actor’s name for the ghostly presence. Allen took the time to research the topic of ghost stories and the sub-genre, by watching various ghost hunting shows and then lucking into filming at Madison Seminary an allegedy-haunted building, once featured on “My Ghost Story” series. However, the film appears to mirror the movie Grave Encounters, and then when needed divulge into more perverse nature, and not using many special effects to achieve the right jolt, for a natural scare.    

Some of the other distracting elements, which understanding how people react, the shaky camera, and overdone element, and with technology of today and the anti-shock mechanism, it is true no everyone has the talent to operate a camera with the ease of John Carpenter or Wes Craven. Then adding in the distortions, and breaking up the picture, to add the sensationalism to film, trying to make suspicion and suspense, nevertheless the sound of it only awakens the audience’s sense and puts them on guard.

The entire line used in the “based on real found footage” is very passé and the tape why is it always a VHS tape, when the cameras use PC Cards (which often very small) and it fairly clean, how many people keep an old ghost tape in mint condition. A few scenes will take a moment to understand and even cause a rewound as they considered ghostly deception to make the individual seem mad and insist on vacating the location, with soul and life intact, but no less rich. This element speaks to another level, one not falling for a gag nor a bullying, rather the mentality to stand-your-ground and take on the challenge, a false bravado. Although, in the end the film delivers the necessary thrills and chills complete with jump scenes and a twisted scene located after the credits, which can make the skin, react with goose bumps.