Endings should never be too literal; especially not in a film where a character talks about having ambiguous endings to stories. Night People ends too literally, especially after a third act where all sorts of threads dangle near one another. Writer and director Lough doesn’t tie things up exactly, but he does go out of his way to imply the viewer has no idea what’s been going on.
The structure of the film is pretty simple. Michael Parle and Jack Dean-Shepherd are a couple of arsonists who have to pass some time; what better way than to tell a couple scary stories. It’s an old, sturdy structure to a fall back on and Parle’s so good–and Lough’s direction of the present action is awesomely creepy–the film can get away with it, especially after Dean-Sheperd’s story starts.
Unfortunately, Parle’s story is first. He doesn’t narrate it, which probably would’ve helped. Instead, the film cuts to the Michael McLaughlin digging up some weird object and getting his science nerd school chum (Eoin Leahy) to figure out how to make it work. Per the dialogue, Lough seems to be going for something Lovecraftian, but he doesn’t really get there. He also doesn’t try very hard. Some of the problem is neither McLaughlin or Leahy are likable characters, nor are they reliable enough to be sympathetic. Lough’s handling of the sci-fi elements aren’t bad at all, it’s just dramatically inert. And Andrew Norry eventually shows up and provides some solid diversion (he and Parle look like twins though).
Luckily, the second story is awesome and all thanks to its protagonist, played by Claire Blennerhassett. She’s the facilitator of deviant desires and finds herself in a dicey situation as she auditions for a promotion. Lough’s script makes some leaps, but Blennerhassett’s so good it doesn’t matter. The second story also has a lot more locations than the first and Lough has a great eye for placing his actors, something he rarely gets to do in the first story.
The reveals at the end are occasionally surprising, but the film goes out way too literally. Lough sacrifices some of the subtlety he built in the first story to give the impression of tied plot threads. Whether or not they are tied is immaterial, since Night People’s more about the sense of it all.
It’s a fine feature length debut from Lough, with fine photography from Greg Rouladh and effective music from Cian Furlong. And Blennerhassett and Parle are awesome.
Written and directed by Gerard Lough; photographed and edited by Greg Rouladh; music by Cian Furlong; produced by Lough and Tanya McLaughlin; released by Rogue Frame Films.
Starring Michael Parle (Mike), Jack Dean-Shepherd (Luke), Claire Blennerhassett (Faustina), Sarah Louise Carney (Lilian), Aidan O Sullivan (Robert), Michael McLaughlin (Randall), Eoin Leahy (Adam), Philip Doherty (Matt) and Kieran Kelly (Blake).
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