Nightlight DVD Review

nightlightFound footage style films have become some of my least favorite type of films and despite the horror genre’s saturation with them, they do not seem to be going anywhere soon.  When done right, they can definitely add atmosphere.  Unfortunately too many of these are like NIGHTLIGHT, which relies solely on the gimmick to add the slightest bit of suspense.

Five high school friends venture off to the nearby Covington Woods, which has an eerie reputation for being haunted as well as a disturbing status as the final destination for suicidal teens.  The four “cool” kids (Nia, Ben, Amelia, and Chris) have invited cute but awkward Robin to accompany them to the woods for a game of flashlight.

Found footage films simply don’t work when there is no logic behind the action being filmed, and this is one of those instances.  Robin does most of the filming but for what reason?  Is she filming on her phone or a camera?  And where did she get the battery with infinite capacity?  Robin manages to continue filming through circumstances which defy normal behavior.

The film meanders through the first 30 to 40 minutes with little going on other than establishing that Robin is clearly the outcast from the rest of the group, leaving you to wonder why the others invited her in the first place.  She does her best to fit in, but the other characters, notably Nia, treat her with complete derision even when things start going awry.

Once the game begins, the group begins to hear strange sounds coming from the woods and exhibiting peculiar behavior.  Every so often we catch a brief glimpse of a strange creature in the flashlight beam, but that is all we ever get.  They soon become stalked by the creature – whatever it is – who is able to whisk them off in a blink of an eye.  Soon, Robin finds herself alone, searching for the rest of her friends yet still managing to record the action despite the desperation of her situation.  Finally, she stumbles upon an abandoned old church in the woods where she comes face-to-face with the demonic presence that haunts the area.

NIGHTLIGHT isn’t terribly original and suffers from far too much choppy editing, which is a shabby replacement for good storytelling.  The creature in the woods is never remotely explained or even shown.  Is it a demon?  A werewolf?  A vampire?  Your guess is as good as mine.  The cast isn’t horrible, but neither are they memorable or even likable.  This is a film that would have benefitted from being shot normally rather than as a found footage project.

The DVD extras include:

  • Audio commentary with Writer-Directors Scott Beck and Bryan Woods and Producer Darren Brandt
  • A behind-the-scenes featurette with cast and crew interviews
  • Five minutes of deleted and alternate scenes.

Rating: [rating=2]

NIGHTLIGHT (Lionsgate 2015, 85 minutes) Written/Directed by Scott Beck and Bryan Woods.  Cast: Shelby Young, Chloe Bridges, Carter Jenkins, Mitch Hewer, Taylor Murphy

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About the Author

Timothy Janson

Tim Janson is a freelance writer and columnist who has written for Fangoria and City Slab Magazines as well as several entertainment websites including Mania Entertainment, Newsarama, The Horror Review, Collider, and Hellnotes.

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