Release: Friday, November 13, 2015 (Ireland)
Written by: Gerard Lough
Directed by: Gerard Lough
This review is my sixth contribution to Mr. Rumsey’s Film Related Musings and my first of this month’s selections. I’d like to give my thanks to James for offering this one to me.
Beautiful, haunting imagery and a few interesting ideas don’t quite coalesce to form a compelling whole in Night People, the feature film debut of Irish director Gerard Lough.
Premiering at the HorrorThon Film Festival at the Irish Film Institute in Dublin a few short weeks ago, this hybrid of science fiction and fantasy often finds strength in its darker themes revolving around deviants existing on the fringe of society as well as within its intriguing narrative structure, yet it’s often responsible for stranding viewers in the same awkward situation in which its central characters find themselves: twiddling their thumbs while killing time, hoping that something interesting will happen at any moment.
Two thieves enter an abandoned old house during the night with the intent of destroying it as part of an insurance scam. They find themselves with time to spare as they anticipate the next phase in the plan and reluctantly trade stories with one another. It is these passages of time that provide the bulk of Night People‘s runtime and lend it some sense of excitement.
The first story nested within Lough’s loose frame narrative, relayed to us by older thief Mike (Michael Parle), is the briefer and inferior segment, and deals with two friends, Robert (Aidan O’Sullivan) and Adam (Eoin Leahy), who discover a possible alien artifact that may or may not act as a portal to another dimension. They try to use the device to their advantage, assuming fame and fortune awaits them, but instead clash ideologically over how to harness its power and ultimately sacrifice friendship because of it.
The second half delivers more strongly on the promise of living up to its title. It immerses viewers into a seedy world that exists after the sun has set, introducing Claire Blennerhassett’s loner Faustina as a young entrepreneur who facilitates clandestine meet-ups for her wealthy and fetishistic clientele. She’s eager to move beyond this shady dating business and tries to do so by taking on a new client (Sarah Louise Carney) who seems different from the rest. Her needs are certainly fruit of another tree. The tasks introduce Faustina to a new set of personal challenges that call into question her sense of decency and morality.
Visually, there is a lot to admire in the film. Lough capitalizes on tenebrosity, restricting the shoot to predominantly nighttime settings that favor rustic locales and low light to conjure an eerie and often otherworldly vibe, a technique that occasionally comes across amateurish but every so often sparks the desired effect. Clearly a mood piece, what with a soundtrack that pulsates and buzzes with electronic beats that occasionally interrupt a little too much, Night People won’t be applauded for its acting nor editing — there are several jarring incongruences particularly regarding the latter — but there’s no denying this is a film of ideas.
Recommendation: This should attract a fairly sizable cult audience with its eerie, noir-esque vibes and its visual mystique. Clearly there is some work to be done in many aspects but Night People shows a director with ambition and talent. Keep an eye out for Gerard Lough.
Running Time: 108 mins.
Quoted: “Wickedness isn’t gender-specific.”
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