As Night Falls (2010) – By Cary Conley

Poor Olivia is having a tough go of it. Shortly after her family moved into a big house in the woods her father passed away unexpectedly, leaving her mother to work double shifts to pay the bills, and they are still barely making it. On top of that, she’s stuck on a deserted country lane with car trouble and is late picking up her little sister from school. Little does Olivia know that her night is going to get even worse, for what she doesn’t know is that her house is haunted by vengeful ghosts. You see, many years ago a small child was murdered by her parents for not going to bed on time and ever since the house has been cursed. Families move in and mysteriously die. And what Olivia doesn’t know is that the ghosts are always on the lookout for people who stay up late which inevitably triggers their anger–as well as a bloody massacre.

Once Olivia arrives safely home with her little sis Holly, she informs husband Otto that their mutual friends have invited themselves over for a party that evening. But as the party really begins to kick into gear, the ghost of the murdered girl begins to appear and warn the revelers about her ghostly parents who have a real axe to grind with people who stay up past their bedtimes. Unfortunately the group of friends don’t connect the dots quickly enough as the evil spirits begin to pick them off one by one. Will the friends solve the puzzle before they are all murdered? Will any of them survive the night? You’ll have to watch As Night Falls to find the answers to these questions.

Writer/director Joe Davison has assembled a technically proficient film. The cinematography by Brian Bourke is slick and the editing is solid. The lighting is also well-done, a strong point for a film that occurs largely at night. The outdoor scenes are generally well-lit and the action can be seen clearly. Even the minimalist musical score by Clint Bailly is effective while the original songs created for the film are a definite high point. Overall, the film itself is a slick production, with the single complaint being that the sound mix was a bit uneven. This had me constantly thumbing the volume button on the remote control, trying to hear some characters while preventing any blowouts by musical cues.

As Night Falls is a combination horror/comedy film that takes its cue from 80’s slasher films. Aside from the apparition of the little girl who was killed, these ghosts wait until the party-goers separate before stalking and killing them. Faces are bashed in, eyes are gouged out, and heads are lopped off. And while this all sounds terribly gory, the blood is actually limited, making the film palatable to even passing horror fans that may be a bit squeamish. While none of the comedy is outrageously funny, some of it did make this viewer smile. Dwight Cenac as Otto is a particularly likeable fellow that does a pretty funny samurai impersonation; however, his comedic quips that are sprinkled throughout the film were a bit flat. While the horrific aspects weren’t especially terrifying for this jaded horror fan and the comedy wasn’t laugh-out-loud funny, the characters were generally likable and the story was unique enough to keep my attention. My main complaint here is the unrealistic reactions some of the characters had to certain situations as well as some of the silly dialogue.

The action really picks up when Olivia and Holly’s big brother, who happens to be a sheriff’s deputy, arrives on the scene. As the survivors bring the fight to the ghosts, the ante is upped when the ghost of the murdering father summons a group of zombies–composed of previous murder victims–to help defeat the stubborn humans. By the time the sun rises it seems the few remaining survivors have indeed defeated the ghosts, in the end redeeming the soul of the murdered girl…or have they? In a final, ironic twist the survivors find themselves at the exact spot where the original murder took place. The ghosts have one last trick up their sleeves.

As Night Falls is a well-produced and fun B-movie with a killer soundtrack, though slightly uneven in places. The back story is unique even if the general plot is a bit clichéd. Fans of comedy/horror, ghosts, and zombies might want to give this one a chance.

As Night Falls is being released by Breaking Glass Pictures on November 12th. For more information go to www.breakingglasspictures.com.