GONE IN THE NIGHT, written and directed by Eli Horowitz (HOMECOMING), is a twisty sci-fi thriller with an interesting message about aging and the societal value that is placed on staying young. Admittedly, I was first drawn to the film as a Winona Ryder devotee who will watch anything she is in. But Horowitz’s interesting premise, which draws you in from the first act, held my attention through the film’s brisk 90-minute runtime. And once you get to the climax, all bets are off as to what will happen next.
Kath (Ryder) and her boyfriend Max (John Gallagher Jr.) decide to rent a vacation property in an isolated part of the woods hours away from their home. They arrive late at night and are shocked to find another couple already staying at the location. After a back and forth about who has the right to stay onsite, the couples decide to share the property for the night and jump into playing a board game. When Max starts to get a little too comfortable with the other mysterious female, Kath decides to remove herself from the situation and go to sleep early. The next morning, she awakens to a completely empty cabin, leaving her to wonder what happened to the strange couple… and her boyfriend.
If that tease for a first act doesn’t grab your attention and make you want to watch the film, I don’t know what else will. Horowitz does a phenomenal job building mystery and suspense throughout each act. Just when you feel like you have a handle of what is going on, he pivots to make it something else entirely. And as a movie fan, that makes for an exhilarating, fun experience.
I miss the era of consistent streams of Winona Ryder-starring vehicles. Quite frankly, STRANGER THINGS isn’t enough for me. But here Ryder is blessing us with new content; when she signs on for a project, I am all eyes and ears. And I don’t think anyone else could have pulled off the performance in this film like Ryder, because she brings an effortlessly cool, edgy vibe to the character. It also isn’t lost on me that they cast an actress of her stature in a film whose message criticizes society’s view of aging, which in itself is a critique of the fact that actresses over the age of 35 barely get roles like this that they can sink their teeth into.
Some may find the climax of the film a bit over-the-top, but at the very least, you have to respect its originality… especially at a time like this when it feels like so many movies are just cookie cutter copies of the successful movies that came before. Some parts of GONE IN THE NIGHT admittedly push the boundaries of absurdity. But this is one of those movies that has stuck with me. So much so, I still find myself thinking about the film’s final shot wondering what happens next.
My Review: B-