If you’ve never trekked around in the woods at night with just a flashlight to guide you, then you are truly missing out on one of life’s simple but effective thrills. I’ve lived the majority of my life in the rural south, and I’ve been surrounded by wooded areas for as long as I can remember. As a kid, my friends and I would play a game called Midnight Hide-and-seek, which is very similar to the premise behind NIGHTLIGHT. As such, I can totally relate to the terror that a darkened forest can bring about. NIGHTLIGHT does an excellent job of fleshing out these mind-twisting nightmares. The film is a heck of a horror flick, and every fan of the genre will want to give it a look.
If you are not familiar with NIGHTLIGHT, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Lionsgate:
For years, the Covington forest has been shrouded in mystery, with a dark past as a final destination for troubled youths. Undeterred by the news of a classmate who recently took his life in those woods, five teens journey into the forest for an evening of flashlight games and ghost stories. But their plans go awry when the friends awaken a demonic presence, an unseen evil that will seize upon their deepest fears-and plunge them into a nightmare of absolute terror.
After I finished the movie, I dug around on the Internet to see what other folks thought about it. To my surprise, many of the reviews I found were negative. Most viewers thought it was too gimmicky, and they didn’t enjoy the point-of-view in which it was shot. Others thought it just didn’t make it sense. I have to wonder if they watched the same film I did…? I love this film, and I plan on watching it again soon.
NIGHTLIGHT is shot well, however it is not your traditional found-footage style film. Instead, the entire movie is shot from the perspective of the main character’s flashlight. Yes, you read that correctly. We get to see things unfold as if a GoPro Camera had been stuck to Robin’s flashlight. The result is a clever and extremely effective POV that puts the viewer right into the thick of the intensity. This is especially noteworthy when the scares are involved. I will not divulge any of them, however I will confess I had to pause the movie and rewind it a couple of times to enjoy a couple of particular scenes over and over.
The acting is great, with the whole cast giving memorable (albeit stereotypical) performances. The main character, Robin, is played by Shelby Young, who fans of Anchor Bay’s THE MIDNIGHT GAME will remember as Rose. Young once again gives an enjoyable portrayal, this time as the uncool kid trying to hang out with the popular group. The rest of the cast is top notch as well, but I have to give a particular shout out to Chloe Bridges who plays the uppity bitch, Nia. Bridges would have fit right in with the cast of HEATHERS, and I commend her for her acting skills.
The special effects in NIGHTLIGHT are very nice, and I especially enjoy the creature costumes. I’m not giving anything away by mentioning them, but they are not what you would expect from a movie like this. They are beyond effective in raising the fright level of the flick, and I love how they are integrated into the film.
NIGHTLIGHT is a huge win for me, and I highly recommend it. This is not a rehashed version of BLAIR WITCH, nor is it your typical teens-in-the-woods scenario. It is a taut thriller full of jump-scares that will keep you on the edge of your sanity. The film is available now in a variety of formats, but try to watch it in surround-sound if you can…the ambient noises that surround you make a huge impact in the effectiveness of the frights. Give this film a chance, for sure.