Directed by: Jack Heller
Starring: Kevin Durand (Smokin’ Aces, The Strain), Lukas Haas (The Revenant, Inception) and Bianca Kajlich (Rules of Engagement)
Directed by a man from Kentucky, a monster/horror film and starring one of my personal favorite underrated actors (Kevin Durand) I was intrigued to check out Dark Was the Night despite the name. It sounds kinda cool but once thought about you half expect it to be directed by Captain Obvious. (Because no shit, it’s dark at night)
Bright Was The Day still brings the good stuff for at-least the first 2.5 acts. A nice, slow burn, mysterious story about a Father (Durand) with a painful past trying to prove to himself he’s capable of keeping his family safe. Then something fucked up comes to town and gives him the chance to x 5000.
The tension builds in an already paranoid small town when animals start to go missing and freaky hoof prints are found all over the place (No really, but they pull it off nicely). Things feel less dumb horror movie and more J.J. Abrams style Monster Mystery at this point as we slowly unravel the menace along with Sheriff Shields (Durand).
Director Jack Heller does a great job of using atmosphere & slowly delving out creepy hints rather than throwing out empty jump scares. Also working for him is Durand who overcomes a done-a-thousand-times back story and manages to deliver his heartache & intention with sincerity. Plus the dude just looks and acts like a leading man. He’s a badass Schwarzenegger type believable hero who can also act. He’s usually the best part of everything he’s in & it’s nice to see him get to keep the cameras attention throughout.
Remember those few episodes of Lost when we didn’t know the monster was just a stupid cloud of black smoke? They do almost as good of a job hiding their perpetrator here, just showing us enough to keep us scared. Maybe they knew that once we saw the evil full form, we would lose interest.
Just as things are reaching peak intensity and they create a badass moment for us to chew on everything goes flat. Mainly the special effects kill all the momentum and end our hopes of scary time goodness. The tension is literally sucked out of the film in a single ugly moment. The shock and horror instead comes from just how bad the special effects look and I think the film makers knew it because they go for a really stupid final horror moment that undermines its best character arc and renders it useless. But damn, they started off really nicely.
6.5/10 Dark Was the Night is watchable because of the well crafted pacing by Jack Heller & Kevin Durand. Damn that final act though. This is a film worthy of a re-make with a better budget for better special effects and Cinematography. As long as they could keep the same players! Just give them the money to make this look the way it should.
Directed by: David Gordon Green (Pineapple Express, Prince Avalanche, Joe)
Starring: Al Pacino (Al Pacino), Holly Hunter (The one with the cool ass voice), Harmony Korine (As one of the most stupid, annoying characters ever)
A character piece about the life of one grumpy old, senile man. His issues are laid-out slowly in grandiose & overly sentimental melodramatics. We as an audience are slowly dragged from sad set piece to sad set piece where the conclusions are obvious if only the film would spare us the “drama” and arrive at them already.
Manglehorn is an Indie that knows its an Indie and is closer to “Prince Avalanche” than any of the Directors other works. Al Pacino kills it here but instead of focusing on solid dramatic acting, Green decided to over-direct this right into “trying to hard to be pretentious” territory.
Manglehorn is trying to re-connect with a long lost love while slowly driving away the things he does have in his life. He’s struggling to be happy. Where in that the Director feels the need to have “LSD flashback” type sequences is lost on me.
It’s not original nor refreshing to slowly plod an audience around in drab and everyday circumstances, throw some folk music or a harp in the background and call it “subdued” and “special”. I don’t need Jurassic Park Dinosaurs or anything but I don’t need to see him feed his cat 37 times to realize he loves it. I don’t need to see him get his mail 32 times before you get to the point of why. I just need Pacino, with something to chew on. I just need his character to fight these demons already. I just need his struggles, his journey and his resolution.
Instead you meandered for 90% of the film and slapped it together at the end with some attempt at an thoughtful ending that landed with about as much intrigue as a happy meal toy. What a wasted Pacino performance. 3/10