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Fear the Night Review

August 7, 2023 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz
Fear the Night Image Credit: Quiver Distribution
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Fear the Night Review  

Fear the Night Review

Maggie Q– Tess
Travis Hammer– Perry
Kat Foster– Beth
Gia Crovatin– Mia
Roshni Shukla– Divya
Brenda Meaney– Bridget
Ito Aghayere– Noelle
Highdee Kuan– Rose
Kirstin Leigh– Esther

(check out the rest of the cast here)

Directed by Neil LaBute
Screenplay by Neil LaBute

Distributed by Quiver Distribution

Not Rated
Runtime– 92 minutes

Fear the Night is currently available on digital and On Demand.

Image Credit: Quiver Distribution

Fear the Night, written and directed by Neil LaBute and currently available on digital and On Demand (it did play in select theaters starting July 21st, 2023, too) is a new badass thriller that’s part action star showcase and part home invasion horror story. The action star in question here is the great Maggie Q, who plays a former military operator (you get the feeling that her character might have been CIA or some kind of Special Forces at one point in her life) that has to use her deadly skills to save her siblings and friends from a heavily armed band of home invaders. Filled with moments of supreme tension and swift, bloody violence, Fear the Night is a cracking good time from start to finish.

When we first meet Maggie Q’s Tess, she’s in the middle of an ongoing argument with her sister Beth (Kat Foster). They’re not quite estranged but their close to it. Tess and Beth just don’t get along, have lived very different lives up until that point (Tess was in the military while Beth seems to have become sort of “rich” businesswoman who likes wine). There’s also some sort of tension between them over what happened to their parents as well as what they need to do to the family farm that’s out in the desert (keep it? Sell it? That kind of thing). Tess and Beth have another sister, Rose (Highdee Kuan), and Rose is set to get married soon and Beth has planned a bachelorette party for Rose to be held at the family farm. Tess doesn’t seem all that interested in having this party, but she’s going along with it because it’s something Rose wants. Tess also doesn’t want to get into yet another big hooha argument with Beth, although, with the way their relationship is you just know that it’s going to happen (and it does).

So Tess and Beth head out to the farmhouse for the party. They bring along Beth’s friends Bridget (Brenda Meaney) and Divya (Roshni Shukla), two people Tess can’t stand (Tess had hoped that she could drive out to the house with Beth so they could be alone and talk but Beth didn’t want that at all). While driving to the house, Tess and Beth stop at a convenience store to gas up and buy some booze (they also meet up with Rose and Mia, played by Gia Crovatin). While inside of the store they run into a group of men who start shit with them. This group of men, led by the perpetually douchey Perry (Travis Hammer) are the toughest dudes in the world until Tess gets in their face. Perry tries to throw his veteran status in Tess’s face, a bit that doesn’t go well (Perry may have been in the military but he never saw combat, like Tess did). After telling Perry off, Tess goes outside and keys Perry’s truck and gets back with Beth and the others and continues on to the house.

As soon as they all get to the house (they are greeted by more friends, including Noelle, played by Ito Aghayere, and Esther, played by Kristin Leigh. There’s also a guy there named Alfonse, played by KeiLyn Durrel Jones. Alfonse is the chef for the party), Tess gets a weird feeling about the whole thing. She doesn’t trust the two caretakers of the property (two men who are clearly up to no good. She actually goes down to the caretaker house and overhears one of the men getting a strange phone call), has a feeling there’s something off about the house, and just can’t get into the party mood. Beth admonishes Tess for trying to ruin the vibe of the festivities, and Tess ends up just hanging out by herself while Beth and Rose and the others drink alcohol and play games (one of the women also wears an inflatable penis during this part of the movie).

So the night goes on, the party goes on, and Rose meets with Tess to thank her for coming and whatnot. Tess gets along quite well with her other sister and they share a nice moment on the front porch of the house. It’s at this moment that the festivities turn to absolute horror as Rose is shot in the chest and killed with an arrow. The more arrows appear. What the hell is going on? Tess brings Rose’s lifeless body into the house. More arrows smash into the house. Everyone panics. Again, what the hell is going on?

After dispatching Alfonse (he was both the chef and a male stripper hired to entertain the party guests and he gets shot in the eye with an arrow), we find out that the house is surrounded by a group of masked men armed to the teeth. Tess immediately springs into action and tries to explain to Beth and everyone else what is likely happening and what they will have to do in order to survive. They need to try to call 911 (there isn’t much in the way of cell phone reception out in the desert). They need to stick together. They need to barricade the doors and turn the lights out. They need to find as many potential weapons as they can (there might be guns in an outside shed but there are none in the actual house). And if the men try to get inside the women are going to have to fight to the death in order to survive.

Goddamit. This was supposed to be just a fun weekend with the girls. A bachelorette party. What the hell do the masked men want?

Fear the Night moves at a crisp pace as we see Tess try to organize Beth and the others and come up with a plan to survive. We also see the masked men, led by Perry (and that isn’t much of a spoiler because you know that he’s going to do something evil as soon as the women meet him in the convenience store), getting ready to invade the house. Perry initially announces that he just wants whatever is inside of the house and he assumes that the women know what it is he wants. The women don’t, but Perry doesn’t believe them. When the women don’t come out and allow Perry and his men to enter the house, you know that he’s going to try to kill all of them. Because that’s what guys like Perry always try to do.

It’s interesting how, even when they’re neck deep in the shit, the women can’t get together and come up with a plan. Even when they want Tess to sort of take charge they start arguing with her over the battle plan she comes up with (Divya may be more antagonistic to Tess than Beth at this moment in time). The women eventually (reluctantly) put Tess’s battle plan into motion, but it doesn’t work out for some of them.

Writer/director LaBute creates a sufficiently creepy atmosphere as soon as the home invasion part of the story begins. The run-up to that is filled with tension because you know that something is going to happen, you just don’t know what it’s going to be. The movie’s action scenes are generally well thought out and exciting. The movie is also absolutely brutal when it has to be, which is exactly what you want for this kind of movie. I’m also a big fan of how LaBute breaks up the story by occasionally flashing onscreen what time it is. I’m not entirely sure why but this “what time is it?” scheme helps ratchet up the tension. Maybe it has to do with the idea of “all of this carnage is really messed up when it’s dark out. What happens if the women survive into the morning and the sun comes out? Will the proceedings get even nastier for all involved?”

The movie’s only real flaw is its depiction of blood. For whatever reason the blood that we see when someone gets stabbed or killed or whatever looks like spaghetti sauce. There are times where it looks sort of okay because you don’t get to really look at it for very long, but when you can really see it the blood looks ridiculous. The blood looks practical as opposed to CGI, so what the heck happened with it? Is it a lighting issue? The movie isn’t killed by this, but it is something you’re going to notice and wonder about.

Image Credit: Quiver Distribution

Maggie Q is fantastic as Tess. You totally believe that she’s some sort of mysterious badass who is just trying to keep things together, both before the violence begins and then when the violence does begin. You can also tell that, deep down, all she wants is peace and to be around her family, even if the current situation is less than ideal. Maggie Q has a screen presence that makes you wonder why anyone would want to mess with her, which is what you want with an action hero (and I consider Maggie Q an action hero). The reason people, especially men, want to mess with her is because people are generally goddamn stupid, so it makes what Q has to do in order to survive that much more satisfying. Amazing stuff.

Image Credit: Quiver Distribution

Travis Hammer is such a raging piece of garbage as Perry. Hammer makes Perry totally unlikeable but you also fully understand why the guys that follow him around follow him around. They’re sort of scared of him and they also want to be him, which makes no sense and all of the sense in the world (again, you have to remember that, deep down, people are just dumb and will follow and believe in anything). I think the audience will cheer and cheer loudly when it sees what happens to him at the end of the movie. I know I cheered.

Kat Foster does a great job as Beth. At first, you think she’s going to be the movie’s villain because Beth just can’t seem to get over whatever her issue is with Tess. Why can’t she just get along with her sister? But as the movie goes on you start to see that maybe Beth’s antagonism towards Tess isn’t exactly wrong. It’s dumb, in the big scheme of things, but you can sympathize with Beth if all she’s experienced with Tess is rolling disappointment (you also get the sense that Tess’s and Beth’s father held the family together, and when the father died there was no one there to take his place and the family dynamic just went bad).

Gia Crovatin does a nice job as Mia. She starts out as just another member of the party but ends up playing an even bigger part of the movie than you expect (she also gets to participate in a great little action scene). Ito Aghayere does the same sort of thing as Noelle (all I will say is that the woman knows how to use a potato peeler). Roshni Shukla and Brenda Meaney are interesting as Divya and Bridget. You understand why they act the way they act but you don’t like it. And Highdee Kuan didn’t know what hit her as Rose (what happens to her is so incredibly depressing). The same goes for poor Kirstin Leigh as Esther. It’s messed up, man.

I love the movie’s final scene, but I can also see how people might not like it because it isn’t all that clear as to what’s happening. Is what we see an expression of happiness finally achieved, or is it a moment of stress manifesting itself? Is it somehow both? Don’t be surprised if you find yourself discussing the movie’s final scene with other people who make an effort to see Fear the Night.

And people should absolutely see Fear the Night. It’s a thriller filled with terrific performances, scary atmosphere, and blistering, cathartic violence. Maggie Q is awesome, and Fear the Night is awesome. It’s definitely worth your time.

See Fear the Night. See it, see it, see it. Fear the Night is currently available on digital and On Demand.

Image Credit: Quiver Distribution

So what do we have here?

Dead bodies: 13

Explosions: None.

Nudity?: None.

Doobage: A woman walking around a basement, a chest filled with family memories, sibling arguing, a road trip, convenience store hooey, misogyny, racism, more misogyny, keying the side of a truck, even more misogyny, toxic masculinity, outdoor party hooey, attempted house investigation, a loud ruining phone, bad cell phone reception, off screen urination, closet hooey, truth or dare, chef hooey, attempted alcohol drinking, “tiny dick” food, surprise male stripper hooey, arrow to the chest, multiple arrow attack, arrow through the eye, multiple trucks, multiple attempted phone calls, car tire slashing, neck stabbing, wallet stealing, of screen arrow to the gut, dissension, attempted plan creation, running, death by end table sculpture, arrow through the mouth, double chair bondage with plastic bag suffocation, gut stabbing, pitchfork through the chest, seemingly endless misogyny, throat slashing, attempted rape, axe to the back, groin evisceration, suffocation via pillow, attic hooey, impromptu knife fight, serious stabbing, booze drinking, police interrogation, cop car keying, and an ending that will be discussed.

Kim Richards? None.

Gratuitous: The desert, Maggie Q, Maggie Q walking in the desert, the time, talk about boobs, talk of lesbianism, racism, veteran bullshit, Maggie Q keying a truck, bachelorette party out in the desert, Maggie Q hiding in a closet, women playing “Truth or Dare,” dicks, a woman wearing an inflatable penis, arrow attack, a pile of potential stabbing weapons, dissension, more lesbianism, seemingly endless misogyny, attempted fellatio, and an ending that will be discussed.

Best lines: “Oh my God. I’m not here for your wine collection,” “I’m like Mr. Miyagi with tits,” “You invited them here? To the house?,” “You’re such a bitch sometimes,” “Hey, cutie. You want some help with that?,” “You boys just taking a break from getting shitfaced or are you excited to look at someone other than your sister?,” “You better watch your fucking mouth,” “I love it here. Great vibes,” “Okay, who wants me to do a reading?,” “You fucking cutie!,” “Have you ever given a hand job to someone you were not attracted to?,” “Thanks for dressing up, by the way,” “Have you ever had sex on a carnival ride?,” “I hope you’re dessert,” “Tess, what the fuck is going on?,” “Tess, I’m scared. I am too,” “Oh my God, they’re going to come in here and kill us. I just know it!,” “Evening, ladies. How’s your party going?,” “No! Everything he says is a lie!,” “Bridget, stop. Don’t be an idiot,” “You know who it was? It was that fucking Army bitch,” “I’ll see you bitches at brunch tomorrow,” “Where are my father’s guns?,” “Potato peeler? Really?,” “I showed you my face. Do you know what that means?,” “Where’s the Army cunt?,” “Are you really gonna let some black chick tell you what to do?,” “Can we fuck’em? When we’re done, yeah,” “No rush. You’re the last one left,” “Silent treatment, huh? Why do women have to be so fucking difficult?,” and “I hope I never see you or any of those other girls up in these parts not ever again. You understand what I’m saying?”

The final score: review Amazing
The 411
Fear the Night, written and directed by Neil LaBute and currently available on digital and On Demand (it did play in select theaters starting July 21st, 2023, too) is a new badass thriller that’s part action star showcase and part home invasion horror story. The action star in question here is the great Maggie Q, and she’s fantastic in the part. The rest of the cast is great, too. Filled with moments of supreme tension and swift, bloody violence, Fear the Night is a cracking good time from start to finish. It’s a movie that you should absolutely see. It’s well worth your time. See Fear the Night. See it, see it, see it.