Night Cries is a psychological thriller about a man’s obsession with finding his wife in a post-apocalyptic world.
If you’re reading this, dear reader, and you’re in love then congratulations. How much would you do for your loved one, your little pumpkin pie? Would you cook for them? Clean? Yeah.
Would you buy them a DVD boxset and give them a foot rub whilst they watch it? Bless. What if they passed away? Would you mourn? Would you dig up their corpse, carve symbols into their chest, and use voodoo magic to transport yourself to the afterlife in order bring your sweet angel back? No? That’s okay. We all have our limits.
However, showing us up like Apu on Valentine’s Day is Joseph (Andrew Cymek), who decides that losing his wife to cancer doesn’t mean he’s going to roll over and accept it. Cribbing from Orpheus’ notebook, he performs an overtly complicated ritual to transport himself to the afterlife in the hopes of finding her. But this afterlife is not your average heaven and hell scenario, far from it. Pitchforks and angel wings are replaced with a post-apocalyptic landscape inhabited by madmen and monsters.
Despite the constant threat of danger, Joseph manages to find his wife, Sarah (Brigitte Kingsley), rather quickly. A once demure teacher, she now dresses like an Underworld p**n parody and has no clue who Joseph is. Taking her by the hand, Joseph must lead her to mortal realm whilst hoping she’ll regain her memory.
Night Cries is a puree of a movie made up from the pilfered story beats and style guides of various other forms of entertainment. The Fallout series, Flatliners, Stephen King’s Dark Tower, bangbros.com; they all take a bow at some point during the narrative. Each of them dipped in a thick coating of super-serious attitude. There’s absolutely no time for smiling on Joseph’s watch. That’s probably why his CGI animated buddy, Caitlyn (Aislinn Paul) stand out so much. A loud mouth doll that curses at every opportunity, she’s presumably there to lighten the mood of the film, but instead comes across as rather annoying. A movie so bleak that comedian Colin Mochrie plays the main villain, The Hat; a part that sees him channeling Leonardo Di Caprio in Django Unchained, whilst leering at Kingsley’s breasts and wearing rather ridiculous hats. Oh wait, I think I just worked out how he got his name.
And honestly, Night Cries could do with some lightness. Even in moments of titillation – of which there is surprisingly a lot of – it struggles to enjoy them. When Sarah is caught in the shower by her husband, she coyly smiles, presenting herself to him… Joseph stares for a bit, grunts and walks away. Curse her nakedness, his stomping seems to cry! It’s all made even more ludicrous by the fact that titillation and sideboob is all Kingsley has been brought in for. I’m not a prude, but my 34 years on this planet have certainly sharpened my senses to detect when someone is being used as a prop instead of an actor.
Moving that all to one side, it’s clear that a lot of love and attention has gone into the film. Cymek is not only the lead of Night Cries, he’s also the producer, writer and director. Clearly this was his baby to throw out with the bathwater. And whilst he’s spirit is strong, the cinematic flesh is weak and I think a lot of that stems from how close Cymek was to the material. Allowing someone to share his burden may have helped him to get a fresh perspective on his material. Everybody needs a fresh pair of eyes, even filmmakers. I just feel there’s a lean 80/90 supernatural thriller here underneath the fat.
Trim those scenes of exposition, cut back on the ogling of Kingsley and maybe remove that whole scene where joseph seeks advice from a horrific stereotypical person of color. Not even Predator 2 wins any points by having someone shouting ‘f**kin’ voodoo magic man.’