10 year old Amelia’s parents think it’s time for her to go to sleep permanently, leaving her broken body in a silent shallow grave. 50 years later, Mommy and Daddy are back from hell, intent on wreaking the same deadly discipline on anyone not in bed by nightfall. Sisters Holly and Elizabeth are losing their minds, and their friends are losing their heads. Something evil has crashed the party…but no one knows what they are fighting.
Debbie Rochon is a name that’s revered by many a horror fan. You might not like all of the films she’s been a part of but you can’t deny that she rarely gives a bad performance, as a matter of fact she’s usually the best thing in each and every one of the films she’s appeared in. So when I saw that she was headlining As Night Falls, I was excited (I’m a big fan)! Imagine my disappointment when I realized that she really isn’t in the movie too much, although she’s terrific in the few scenes she appears in.
As Night Falls begins with a little girl being chased through some backwoods by her parents. I really couldn’t figure out why they were after her or what she did but they’re intent on catching & killing her (which eventually happens). Debbie plays the murderously minded mom and she’s great (as usual) but she’s in and out of the film in a few scant minutes. Disappointing…especially since her name is above the title on all print ads for the film and fans can’t be faulted for expecting to see a little more of her.
Anyhoo…many years later we meet Elizabeth (Deneen Melody), Her mom and her little sister Holly (Lily Cardone) who all live in a small home in the woods. They’re all preparing for a party to celebrate the return of Elizabeth’s rock star boyfriend, Otto (Dwight Cenac), from a tour. Along with her boyfriend are a bunch of the usual stereotypical stock characters to remind us that the script isn’t really all that unique and that every low budget independent film has to include a couple of bad actors in its cast (must be some kinda contractual obligation or something…). But guess what? The little dead girl returns as well! And she’s back to warn everyone that her parents are coming back and they aren’t too happy! But since she’s a ghost, she scares them far more than alerts them and once her parents arrive…
Writer/Director Joe Davidson does a good job wrangling the disparate elements of his script together into a cohesive movie. This doesn’t mean that he’s made a particularly good movie but he didn’t make a terrible one either. There are some good performances to be found here, especially from Deneen Melody, who really lights things up as the film goes into the battle between the angry dead parents and her friends. There are also a few interesting bits & pieces in the script that managed to wrangle a grin outta me. Especially the ongoing game in which Harrison Ford film quotes are bandied back and forth between the partygoers, which didn’t annoy me as much as I thought it would.
But some really, really, really bad makeup effects just took whatever momentum the film might’ve built up and crapped it down the toilet. The various decapitations & resulting gore are so amateurish that I wonder if it wouldn’t have been a better idea to cut away from the murders before they actually occurred. Rochon’s makeup is so hideous that I didn’t recognize her one bit! I had to wait for the end credits before I realized that she played the homicidal mother. She deserved a lot better than what she got here.
As Night Falls suffers from delusions of grandeur. It wants to be a cut above the standard supernatural slasher flick but budgetary restrictions shoot it’s lofty ambitions right out of the sky. Some nice characterizations & a few funny lines can’t compensate for some terrible acting and absolutely atrocious makeup effects. And the misuse of the biggest star in its cast really doesn’t help too much either. That being said, it ain’t the worst thing I’ve seen this month but it’s pretty disappointing all the same.
As Night Falls – 1 1/2 out of 5 shrouds.