Gone in the Night

Review by Rich Cline | 3/5

Gone in the Night
dir Eli Horowitz
scr Eli Horowitz, Matthew Derby
prd Raphael Margules, JD Lifshitz, Shaun Sanghani, Russ Posternak
with Winona Ryder, Dermot Mulroney, John Gallagher Jr, Owen Teague, Brianne Tju, Yvonne Senat Jones, Alain Uy, Dustin Ingram, Kunal Prasad, Nina Jordan, Sedrick Cabrera, Eugene Magana
release US 15.Jul.22
22/US 1h30

mulroney galagher teague

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gallagher and ryder
An intriguing spin on cabin-in-the-woods horror, this film cleverly builds a sense of mystery between characters who ooze offbeat details. It's clear from the start that there's more going on here than meets the eye, and filmmakers Eli Horowitz and Matthew Derby have fun dribbling out enticing clues to the audience. So even if where it goes is both implausible and thematically simplistic, the journey is entertainingly bonkers.
On a weekend deep in the Redwoods, Kath and Max (Ryder and Gallagher) arrive at their rented cabin to find that it's been double-booked. Younger couple Al and Greta (Teague and Tju) agree to share, and they all play a sexy board game. But in the morning, Max has run off with Greta. Back home, Kath tries to get on with her life but needs some answers. So she contacts the cabin's owner Nicholas (Mulroney), who joins her as she investigates. Then the puzzle pieces begin to fall into place, painting a rather mind-bending picture.
Quirky character suggestions build fascinating atmosphere, from background information to personality traits and hints about other things that might be going on. This includes conversations with strangers and pointed flashbacks circling back to the evening Max ditched a dinner party with friends to hang out with strangers. Each revelation adds wrinkles to the story, raising questions about a biotech company, a possible religious cult or a counterculture underworld. And the actors inject warmly jagged humour along the way.

As usual, Ryder subtly layers interest into her character, a woman who prefers being in her safe space but is lured outside by her curious mind. Even if they seem happy, Kath is clearly mismatched with the younger Max (they met as teacher and student), whom Gallagher plays with an offhanded charm that's underscored by a bit of smug hipness. Teague and Tju have plenty of edge as the inscrutable interlopers, while Mulroney is likeably woolly as a mountain man who's actually a scientific genius.

The script is so controlled about what it reveals and when that there's little point trying to get ahead of it. The writers only give away the story's secrets on their own terms. This makes watching the film somewhat alienating, especially with so little under the surface. But it's sharply shot and edited, with a first-rate cast adding gripping touches to each scene. And while the climactic sequence is tense and properly harrowing, it's under-developed and more than a little absurd.

cert 15 themes, language, violence 11.Jul.22

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© 2022 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall