Teen Horror Goes to a bad Place

Directed by Brian Cavallaro / 2017

So right off the bat, we know that in Against the Night, a horror movie written and directed by Brian Cavallaro, Rachel’s going to be the lone survivor. That’s not a spoiler- the movie begins with her being interviewed by a skeptical police detective (Frank Whaley, Pulp Fiction) concerning her dead friends. Now, I’m just a movie reviewer and I’ve never made a horror movie, but doesn’t letting the audience know right up front who lives and who dies take just a little bit of the tension out of things?

Anyway, Rachel (Hannah Kleeman) tells the detective that her friends, a group of generically attractive twenty-somethings, decided to break into an abandoned prison to film a ghost hunting video. And apparently to have some sex too, since a few of them find the rotting insides of a penal institution to be kind of a turn on. “What’s the worse thing that could happen?” someone asks as they squeeze through the main gate. You would’ve thought at least one of them has seen a horror movie from the last 40 years.

You would’ve thought at least one of them has seen a horror movie from the last 40 years.

If so, they would’ve certainly recognized themselves in it, as the group consists of your stock horror movie types. There’s the weird guy, the dude bro, the sensitive guy and, well I guess they went with a drunk instead of a stoner, so that’s novel. But if the men are one-dimensional cliches, the women fare worse. None of them have any identifiable character traits, and there were times I simply couldn’t tell one from another. IMDB tells me that their names are Rachel, Michelle, Carrie, Brooke and Suzy.

As the group explores the old prison, they decide to leave all their cell phones behind (because… shut up!) and split up. Our protagonists aren’t the sharpest tools in shed. “Suzie is missing, and so is Dan!” somebody says, and the response is “What do you mean?” Were they not speaking English just then? One couple finds a room containing what I guess are blueprints and schematic drawings. “Doesn’t it look like a crop circle?” the woman asks. Yes, in that both the prison and crop circles are circle-shaped. My coffee mug looks like a crop circle too. Should I be concerned?

So as the movie progresses, one by one the kids are picked off by strange, grunting figures in the dark. Nobody’s getting a good look at whatever is happening, and soon the group of survivors is accusing the others of being in on the murders. This complicates their plans to escape- well not very much as it turns out. But if you were paying close attention to the first scene of the movie, you know that only Rachel makes it out alive. So you just know making it out isn’t going to as easy as all that- and did I mention these kids are kind of dumb?

The movie wallows in the worst of the genre’s tropes

If you’ve read this far, you’ve probably gathered that I did not like Against the Night. It doesn’t bring anything to the horror movie that hasn’t been done a million times before. In fact, it wallows in the worst of the genre’s tropes. The best thing I can say about it is that the notes I took during the movie are super-legible, because I could take all the time I needed to write something down and not miss anything. I thought that movies like Scream and Cabin in the Woods put a bullet in the head of films like this. Turns out, they tend to pop right back up to threaten us some more, just when we’re convinced they’re dead for good.


Against the Night is available on popular streaming platforms such as iTunes, Fandango Now, Vudu, Amazon, Google Plus, Xbox, iN Demand, and others on March 27.