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DVD Review: As Night Falls (2010/13)

Poor young “Amelia” (Grace Chapman). She was only ten years old when her psycho parents (Michael Ellison, Debbie Rochon) decided she should go to bed…forever.

After killing her, they threw her mangled body in a shallow grave. 50 years later, the poor unfortunate girl has come back to warn the new owners of the property, “Elizabeth” (Deneen “The Playboy Club” Melody) and “Holly” (Lily Cardone) that her parents are coming back from Hell and are going to be killing everyone in sight.

How do those in the land of the living take it? Disbelief, of course, even when they all realize that this ghost girl is, in fact, real. It is, after all, a horror movie where kids who get together for a party one night walk right into a most welcomed slaughter. Would we have it any other way? It’s hard to tell since, on the one hand, the slasher aspects of the film are the result of a carefully used budget; on the other hand, the plot is a piecemeal effort at tying it all together into a story—a story that never even attempts to justify itself. Consequently, we never care all that much for it or anyone in it (except for Rochon, assuming you were already a fan).

Elizabeth’s brother is the sheriff (Davison). The family dynamics come through nicely, but this is really Lily and Elizabeth’s show as they both step into their roles almost as well as Sarah Michelle Gellar in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Kudos to them for that.

As for the zombies, it is ultimately unclear why 50 years gave some rise to undeads getting a chance to come back and start killing (what was the supernatural occasion that made it possible?). If it’s supposed to be part of the comedy, then it’s lost on us. One of the big talking points in lieu of the film’s release is the presence of Canadian B-movie goddess Debbie Rochon as the hell-inspired mother who comes on camera to scream at us while wielding a pitchfork. Yes, along with her tall, undead husband who (like her) won’t stay dead, that’s all we get of her.

The plot, much like the chuckle-worthy ending, makes no sense because it doesn’t ever try to. The obvious ghost effects of Amanda, like something you'd see on a commercial on a YouTube spoof, are not even being counted as troubling as the way director Joe Davison just assumes we are supposed to want to care about this cast on the merits of their wacky antics or the skit humor they keep sadly resurrecting at every opportunity in the name of racking up more screen time. I’ve said before that combining horror and comedy is a delicate art, one not easily mastered by any old goon with $100 and a camcorder.

Canadian actress Debbie Rochon reappears as the
"the mother from Hell" in As Night Falls

Overall, As Night Falls is a rather good blend of badly conceived ideas, this despite some fun music choices, a lively cast, some great cinematography, very nice pacing, and a fine use of its budget. But it neither gives us anything to think about, nor thrills us (or scares us). Because of that, it doesn't even make us wonder why or how any of this could happen since the story doesn’t take itself seriously enough to justify what is happening. It tries to make us laugh, but even that can be a hard sell.

If you are enough of an indie buff and decide to give this a look, as the minutes go by and you are listening to the sounding off of 80s references and friend dynamics at a party, know that you could have just watched the trailer, which is better than the movie itself.

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