Ghosts, demonic spirits, and the whole rainbow of monsters horror has come to embrace can take a hike. Nothing scares the hell outta me more than a home invasion thriller. I always find myself triple-checking the locks in my house after watching one. And when the perpetrators’ motives amount to nothing more than mayhem (Funny Games, The Strangers), it’s all the more disturbing.
Richard Schenkman’s Mischief Night follows the same motif, only his baddies target the home of a blind girl to up the ante. The portrayal of the girl is terrific and her handicap makes for some exciting moments, but Mischief Night is too bogged down by its disjointed pacing and narrative to really hit the mark.
The film’s prologue involves a sexy couple getting ready to have sex on Halloween eve. Then they hear a sexy disturbance downstairs and when they check it out, someone has put their sex tape on. Instead of being scared shitless that someone broke into their house, found their sex tape, and is playing it, the husband gets even more turned on. He even goes “Oooo, naughty school girl!” Finally his penis snaps out of it and the carnage begins. It’s a mean little opening that sets the tone for the rest of the film. You would think. Instead the film comes to a screeching halt. If anything, the prologue insinuates that the masked baddies are targeting multiple households in one night.
Next we’re introduced to our heroine, Emily (Noell Coet). Years ago she was in a car accident that left her mom dead and her blind and crippled with asthma. Her therapist insists that her eyesight will come back if she could get over her mother’s death. Emily’s got a super supportive dad and boyfriend, who sneaks in her room when the old man isn’t around. Her dad heads out on business, leaving Emily alone and seemingly defenseless.
The invaders, dressed in creepy masks and raincoats, don’t consider Emily’s blind ingenuity though! They toy with her extensively and it usually ends up backfiring. The most intense moments come when they’re in the same room as her, not hiding or anything, sometimes standing two inches away. However, all the intense moments are spaced too far apart, so the film gets into a boring lull several times that’s too deep to claw out of. There are some nice cathartic moments, most notably a blood-drenched note of triumph for Emily – but these instances are too little too late.
Coet is perfectly fine as Emily, although she isn’t give much to work with. I was hoping Emily’s traumatic event was going to somehow tie into the invaders’ motive. Instead the two are completely disjointed from another. The invaders just happened to target the home of a blind girl who needed to overcome her fear to be rid of her blindness. Works out for Emily, who regains her sight but is probably even more fucked up now that even more loved ones are dead and she’s got blood on her own hands. Some kids just can’t catch a break.
Mischief Night hits DVD from Image Entertainment on December 17. The disc comes with a behind-the-scenes featurette.
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