With its nod to Clockwork Orange, AS NIGHT COMES, directed by Richard Zelniker, avoids every cliche and cheap trick, instead forcing us inside the pain, fear and excruciating confusion that lives inside so many people today. It doesn’t look “at” a social issue and offer a glossy solution. It demands that we feel the desperation of its trapped protagonists. Who is the hero and who is the villain? No easy answer there either. We all have a voice. A passionate, but weary English teacher (portrayed with such humanity by Moe Irvin) offers a path. Shakespeare. Poetry. But this writer, director, producers and stunning cast walk us down that path and lead the way for every kid, parent, citizen, human asking not just “Why did another kid take a gun to school?” and “Why did another horrific killing happen?” The pain is intolerable. The fear is constant. And the answers too quiet and too late. AS NIGHT COMES opens a much needed conversation. No. It demands it from a roof top.
And about that director, Richard Zelniker found a soft-spoken boy with a volcano inside of him and put that voice on screen. Where so many filmmakers today rely on horrific violence, gore and external terror to hold our attention, Zelniker somehow makes us feel every painful moment without ever taking the easy way out. An adult film about childhood agony that reveals itself so exquisitely, you are left shaken to the core without one “shock shot”. Like The Hurt Locker, your heart is in your mouth from the first five minutes through the final exhale. Beautifully photographed, the images are terrifying and haunting in the best way. How does a film that never jolts you with that sudden scream keep you so wrapped? Zelniker and his cast jolt us awake. Complacency is not an option. Helter Skelter, Clockwork Orange, and The Outsiders have a companion for the shelf. I really didn’t want to, but Zelniker made me look.
And now I can’t close my eyes.
Just returned from a distributor screening of [the] new film: AS NIGHT COMES, at Technicolor.
Disturbing, uncomfortable, and uplifting all at the same time.
There is no “protagonist” anywhere among this great young cast that features Luke Baines as the deeply dysfunctional leader of a group dubbed “The Misfits” and Myko Olivier as the Misfits’ apparent “odd-man out.” As the Misfits pre-Halloween rampage escalates from petty crime through the gamut of assault, battery, arson and murder Olivier’s Sean Holloway provides a reluctant counterpoint of conscience to Baines’ Ricky Gladstone, who grows more and more fond of the havoc as the plot unfolds. We eventually see them both as different sides of the same very tarnished coin – one “redeemable,” the other irretrievably lost in the mire. In the end, we’re not quite sure which is which.
The lighting and camera work for this piece give the impression you are viewing a live Hieronymus Bosch painting; simultaneously fascinating, scary, beautiful, repellent, and symbolic. Whether deliberately or not, the many odd points of view, and the disjointed compelling images put one in mind of Kubrick (Clockwork Orange) and some of the disorienting images in Hitchcock’s films.
The production values on the film are awesome! It looks more like a 20 million dollar film than a film made for what I know it was made for.
I saw this movie in a distributor screening. Here’s hoping someone picks this up so that others can enjoy it too. The last time I had a similar feeling about a pre-release showing was a few years ago… the film was Gods and Monsters. I left that one thinking “too bad it doesn’t have distribution and we are the only audience that will see it” too. Hope AS NIGHT COMES does just as well!
Steven J. Roy
Richard, congrats on a film of great social significance as well as entertainment. The sign of a great movie is how it can influence your thinking well after seeing it. I reflect on my own high school days and I even reached out to some old friends and re-socialized. Privilege being part of your film. It’s not just a movie. It’s a lesson in life and a tool to mend past mistakes!
Deeply moved by the message of this movie and impressed with everyone’s work. Masterfully acted, directed, edited, filmed, proud to have been a part of it and looking so forward to the message helping young people who are seeking their own answers in this troubling world as well as myself who ended up reflecting and reaching out to people from 30 years ago and mending some fences. We all choose sides, sometimes by choice, sometimes by necessity. AS NIGHT COMES is a brilliant film about how hard those choices can be and how those choices can effect you 3 decades later. Congrats to everyone! This film is not merely entertainment. It’s a tool to help save a society that’s lost its course.
Richard Zelniker’s latest indie-flick AS NIGHT COMES is a tale about a troubled teen (Myko Olivier) who gets in over his head with a group of social outcasts whose petty crime pranks escalate into a nightmare of disturbing violence. Zelniker’s solid direction gave the movie a very gritty and fluid feel and Olivier handled the complex lead role well and has great potential. The film also has commercial potential and was very enjoyable…feeling like a modern-day homage to cult movies like A Clockwork Orange and The Warriors – I look forward to seeing what Zelniker offers next.