“I’m all yours Will… every inch of me.”
–Kim (Erica Leerhsen)
Mischief Night. Every year, the night before Halloween becomes fair game to anyone who wishes to cause a bit of anarchy upon this world. Most people burn dog feces, others throw eggs and toilet paper. This year someone will take it the extra mile, for motive or for simple chaos, blood will spill.
From Richard Schenkman, director of The Man From Earth and Abraham Lincoln Vs. Zombies, comes a suspense thriller that ups the ante of home invasion films and adds a factor never seen before, a blind lead character.
Mischief Night, the year prior, has two people, committing adultery in a Jacuzzi, Will (Charlie O’Connell) and Kim (Erica Leerhsen). Let us ignore them for now, just know that they die.
Our actual story starts out with Emily Walton (Noell Coet) conversing with her Therapist (Ally Walker). It is established that Emily is blind, but only psychosomatic due to a car crash when she was young. Her mother died in that very car accident, and Emily still carries the blame. Since it has been eight years, her Therapist thinks this is unfounded and doesn’t believe she should.
We soon find out that Emily is newly living in the house the adulterers died in, but she is unaware of this. Mischief night yet again, and her father David (Daniel Hugh Kelly) has a first date since he lost his wife, of whom he still loves. Emily assures him that she will be quite all right by herself and that he should get out of the house.
A few different surprise guests, her boyfriend Jimmy (Ian Bamberg), her Aunt Lauren (Stephanie Erb), and even a masked assailant, visit Emily as the night progresses. Soon she is caught in a deadly game of hide and get killed or keep moving and outsmart the killer. Will Emily eventually prevail, conquering her traumatic past and regaining her sight, or will the intruder easily kill a helpless blind girl? You guess.
Let me start by griping about the opening scene. It starts out like a bad porn film, and I’m convinced that I’ve heard these lines before, in a bad porn film. Soon they hear a noise and it’s initially brushed off then eventually investigated. Cliché after cliché follows, until there is a running, stumble, fall, running sequence that will literally make you laugh aloud. It is NOT supposed to be funny. The sad thing is that both of these actors, under different directors and settings, have been very capable of bringing strong performances. The opening scene feels tacked on and I cannot for the life of me tell you why they didn’t leave it on the cutting room floor, other than to show sequence and continuity, that still not one person would care to miss.
I was very close to giving up on this film, all the while preemptively writing notes such as, “The actors sometimes have that expression, as if they smell something terrible, maybe it’s the film.” Also, “In the opening scene, the killer is throwing feces at a car, a lot of it. This seems to symbolise the entire film, a shit-throwing contest.” Yet after the opening credits rolled, I found myself rather enjoying this picture.
Next comes the half hour build up before any terror happens, which works quite well in character development. The relationship of Emily and her father, Emily and her boyfriend, Emily and her environment, day-to-day stresses of being blind, actually kept me interested and almost forgetting it’s a horror film. Then comes the horror. There are quite a many scene that milk tension, and do so successfully, leaving you to fear for the main character’s safety. Fear for safety equals caring and an even more emotional investment, a well-played trick by the director. And all Emily wanted to do was stay home and watch slash listen to The Night of the Living Dead.
Overall there are flaws in this picture, many actually, glass deep in a foot without bloody footprints, a car that with a dead battery where the windshield wipers still work. There are also a few scenes where the killer follows Emily around the house, close behind, and her not noticing. This is contradiction because in an earlier scene, her boyfriend sneaks up behind her from an open bedroom window and she catches the scent from a mile away. The tagline on the cover is even misleading, as it states, “The lucky ones die first.” The film has a relatively low body count, but when the bodies do hit the floor, they are satisfying. Sometimes the film introduces “plot information” in a sly and deceptive manner, but other times it’s so blatantly obvious that the knowledge will come into play and become a key factor. Moreover, the film will make you scream out, “why does everyone keep leaving the blind girl to wait by herself?” And lastly, it’s very close to being a rip off of Wait Until Dark (1967).
Short of the opening scene, this was a good film, good but not great. If it was filmed in the seventies, it would have been a great film and ahead of its time. It has all the makings of a mid-seventies flick, including a cast of only eleven. Alas, it was not filmed in the seventies and it is not ahead of its time. One thing it does have going for it, is innovation. However, innovation alone does not make greatness. Therefore, if you wish to watch a good film with a micro-budget that is not a studio film, Mischief Night is your ticket. I just wish the opening scene didn’t happen.
- Behind-The-Scenes: The Director actually introduces the featurette telling you not to watch it if you haven’t seen the film, as it contains spoilers. Pretty cool. I might have seen this before, though now I cannot recall where. An eleven minute insight into a few scenes that didn’t work the first time they filmed them, how the film came together, and brief cast interviews, make up the entirety of the special features albeit feature.
The Video Specs:
Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
The Audio Specs:
English: Dolby Digital 5.1
DVD-5 DVD Disc
Single disc (1 DVD)
Link To Purchase:
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