DEAD NIGHT (a.k.a. Applecart) *** USA 2017 Dir: Brad Baruh 86 mins
A good-looking feature debut for Brad Baruh, opening in traditional slasher territory with subjective camera work and a gruesome fate for a 1960’s parked couple necking in the woods.
In the present day, bickering teens and their cancer-stricken dad take a vacation in the mountains at a spiritual retreat traditionally rented out by the dying. What follows breezily subverts expectation at a brisk pace and offers one of Barbara Crampton’s best latter day roles as an injured woman who takes refuge when the (splattery) shit starts hitting the fan. DEAD NIGHT has echoes of the usual suspects (notably THE EVIL DEAD) but quite cannily covers its exposition via a faux “Inside Crime” TV show (hosted by the excellent Daniel Roebuck) unravelling the past horrors and running parallel to the modern-day narrative. It makes evocative use of the wintry backdrop and, best of all, delivers some excellent jaw-ripping practical gore and old-school bladder-FX during the big finale. Featuring a score by busy genre composer Joseph Bishara, of the INSIDIOUS and CONJURING franchises.
Review by Steven West