Gone In the Night, 2022.
Directed by Eli Horowitz.
Starring Winona Ryder, Dermot Mulroney, Brianne Tju, John Gallagher Jr., and Owen Teague.
Upon arriving at a remote cabin in the redwoods, Kath and her boyfriend find a mysterious younger couple already there — the rental has apparently been double-booked. With nowhere else to go, they decide to share the cabin with these strangers until the next morning. When her boyfriend disappears with the young woman, Kath becomes obsessed with finding an explanation for their sudden breakup— but the truth is far stranger than she could have imagined.
To borrow a line from a character in Gone In the Night, this is a tale of mortal terror. It will take a while to understand what that means, which is occasionally frustrating considering director Eli Horowitz and screenwriter Matthew Derby have an amateurish execution of everything from the script to the editing. The middle section, in particular, switches perspectives and timelines back and forth, fizzling out until everything converges for an explosive finale.
Fortunately, there is always a decent amount of intrigue within Gone In the Night. It’s a mysterious tiller that receives a couple of Max and Kath (John Gallagher Jr. and Winona Ryder, respectively) attempting to sort out the knots in the relationship by having a weekend getaway up in the mountains. Max is under the impression he has rented out the cabin for his group until another couple is already there upon their arrival. They happened to be Al and Greta (Owen Teague and Brianne Tju), with the former elected to share the space until the latter intrudes on the conversation and says they should stay the night.
A game of Pillow Talk (players roll the dice and move pieces around a board, subsequently picking up cards, forcing them to share secrets or act out dares) follows, where it also becomes apparent that there are cracks in both of these partnerships. Nonetheless, by the following morning, everything has irreparably changed. This is also where Gone In the Night somewhat writes itself into a structural corner, constantly going back and forth between past and present.
One bright spot in the above is a developing friendship between Kath and the cabin owner (Dermot Mulroney). He has a few years on her, which is a notable difference from the relationship with Max, who was once a former horticultural student of Kath. It gives the story some time to elaborate on its themes of mortality and impending death and what can be surmised from associating with younger people psychologically.
However, Gone In the Night is also a nasty little thriller that goes to disturbing places and its climax, with some tense moments questioning whether or not characters will go through confident choices. There’s also some elevation coming from the game performances from the small ensemble successfully able to straddle the line between drama and horror. Again, the middle is poorly constructed and meanders, but the bloody high note Gone In the Night ends on will ensure more moos of approval than boos.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★
Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Critics Choice Association. He is also the Flickering Myth Reviews Editor. Check here for new reviews, follow my Twitter or Letterboxd, or email me at MetalGearSolid719@gmail.com