Five friends play flashlight games in a forest with a long history as a beacon for troubled young people contemplating suicide. As the night continues, their games awakens an evil presence residing in the forrest which won’t let them leave.
Make no mistake, Nightlight is not your typical found footage film. In fact its directors Scott Beck and Bryan Woods insist it is anything but. This said, the film does play with many of the tropes of the found footage genre but instead the entire film is seen from the point of view of a single flashlight offering the audience a fresh twist on the subgenre. Comparisons to films like The Blair Witch Project are inevitable here but Beck and Woods have crafted a thriller that takes great pride in taking its audience on a rollercoaster ride that will have anyone of a nervous disposition screaming to get off. On the other hand, for those brave enough to strap themselves in for the ride, there’s plenty of substance to chew on by the time the final climax comes around.
Fun and at times incredibly effective, the film moves along at lightening speed through some incredible sequences such as a game played on a train track and another inside a cave. Both scenes are very tense but what surprised me is how the suspense builds in intensity as the film progresses making the film feel relentlessly claustrophobic. The film stars a young cast including Shelby Young (American Horror Story), Chloe Bridges (The Final Girls) and Carter Jenkins (TV’s The Following), Nightlight quickly picks up momentum becoming a real tour deforce where the anticipation of what is going to happen next will have you glued to the screen.
I was impressed by Nightlight and it is a shame that it suffers from the usual pitfalls of the found footage genre. For one, the abundance of shaky cam often obscures the action and at times makes the film feel clunky especially in the end. But on reflection it is clear that the directors were setting out to create a fun horror movie and on this level they have succeeded. Overall, Nightlight is a taught horror movie packed with some incredible scares and serves as a real treat for genre fans. The performances may not offer anything beyond expectations nor does the POV aspect add anything new but it does come with a few surprises along the way that will remind you to always keep stock of replacement batteries.
Words: Jon Dickinson (@marvelguy)