The Devil Comes At Night (2022 World Premiere)
Director (and co-writer): Scott Leaver
Cast: Ryan Allen, Adrienne Kress, Jason Martorino, Elias Zarou, Shawn Ahmed, Todd Campbell, Dana Fradkin
A washed up boxer searching for his inheritance must fight for his life when he is trapped in his deceased father’s farmhouse by a local cannibal cult.-IMDB
The Devil Comes At Night is a single location setting film which uses the home invasion framework except its a bunch of odd neighbors trying to lure the main character out into the dark. The festival showed a rough cut version which had a few placeholders in place however to be fair, it didn’t affect the whole premise or structure of the film.
The film has a mixed horror genre premise and while some of the cast didn’t quite feel too natural and there’s a very generic take in terms of portrayal for the threat/enemy, the concept of having weird people did give them that space to feel a little more over the top when trying to be uncomfortable through the dialogue. Due its reasonable runtime, the story is well-paced with well-timed reveals since the film slightly has a mystery element to it as the two main characters in the house try to figure out what is happening. While the story itself has some unknown spaces that makes it slightly incomplete, a lot of the main parts do piece together a good picture for what will happen next. Perhaps its my own lack of horror films but the premise did feel fresh as a reverse home invasion of sorts.
If there was a main issue to discuss would mostly be the cast itself as a lot of the acting felt like it wasn’t too natural. There was a generic bad guy feeling of the crazy over the top evil which seems to be how most people would approach this character and lacked the extra depth to make it feel creepier. While the other people involved in the evil infestation did feel over the top, they did feel more justified to just have that overall bizarre feeling. Where the acting does come together is the main character Ben, played by Ryan Allen who delivers a great performance. While not quite the same level, the woman hiding in the house with him Amy, played by Adrienne Kress also delivered a decent role.
With that said, The Devil Comes At Night actually plays out its best a little after the silly beginning where the main character doesn’t follow the instructions in the house and it feels too late and pretty much his doing that all this is happening but still manages some stalking horror, playing whats hiding in the background and what horrors it holds and when the neighbors might actually break in, creating a really effective creepy atmosphere. Outside, it slowly becomes the mystery of what is hiding in the dark that everyone wants to lure them out. Using darkness yet again as an effective way of creating a ominous atmosphere.
Overall, The Devil Comes At Night is well directed and executed. It uses its setting effectively to create a good horror atmosphere. The acting is great for certain roles but a little lacking in some. The overall story is pretty well scripted with decent reveals and twists to make it intriguing. A s a side thought, since this is a rough cut and there are a few placeholders, I do hope the title is also a placeholder since it reveals more than it needs to which loses the allure of the film by taking away at least the first layer of reveal and mystery.