US | 2016 | Directed by Matt Stuertz
Logline: After a girl goes missing, two of her friends, and two strangers, find themselves trapped in a cabin in the woods, and dealing with a demon.
This hipster-looking director, delivering his second feature, is unafraid to twist the tropes, and is not shy at pushing the boundaries of what might be considered that all-too-important indie-mainstream crossover threshold. Tonight She Comes is a wild, unruly beast, and, ultimately, it rewards in such memorable ways that whatever reservations you might have had during its first half hour are torn asunder once the serious shit starts to hit the fan.
Yes, the first half an hour is a curious affair, filled with stupid, annoying characters and behaviour, and a puerile sense of humour. One wonders if it’s a parody or just something ill-conceived. James (Nathan Eswine) is a rural postman, and his buddy Pete (Adam Hartley), is along for the ride. Meanwhile Ashley (Larissa White) and her friend Lyndsey (Cameisha Cotton) arrive at a lakeside cabin for a little girly r&r, whilst waiting to rendezvous with Kristy (Dal Nicole). But Kristy isn’t feeling herself anymore.
At the risk of spoiling the fun Tonight She Comes spills along with crude hi-jinx, obscure POVs, and a strange perspective. Just whose story is being told here? Do we really care about these idiots? Or is this all an elaborate ruse by the young writer/director to lure us into a false sense of the absurd, only to pull the shagpile carpet out from under us? Indeed Tonight She Comes is riddled with sly and not-so-sly references, wearing its influences on its sleeve like flair on a uniform. Stuertz is brazen, and goes bolder still, once we’re introduced to the weirdo locals, Francis (Frankie Ray), and his offspring, Felicity (Jenna McDonald), and her older brother Philip (Brock Russell).
It becomes quickly apparent the cabin family have been up to no good, although they claim to be setting things right. There is a demon afoot, and there will be hell to pay, unless everyone does exactly what Fah-liss-ah-tay says. The clock countdown continues, and the blood starts to flow unabated, and not just arterial either. You’ll wrinkle your nose if you get my cyclic drift.
Tonight She Comes is a great-looking movie, with high production values, especially the awesome, mostly practical, special effects. The performances from an unknown cast are bang on, but special mention must go to McDonald as bogan daughter, and Ray, as her papa. They deliver the backwoods banter with aplomb. Also of note is the retro-vibed score from Wojciech Golczewski, tapping into the synth-driven suspense with seductive ease.
It’s a riotous, entertaining assault on the senses, and as the chaos continues to ensue, the audience knows that awesome poster design and its matter-of-fact tagline wasn’t dicking around. Like a red river to a black ocean, this demon is hellbent. Fighting fire with fire seems to be the only option, and it’s getting damn close to midnight.
Many will probably consider Tonight She Comes to be jumping on the It Follows bandwagon, but this vivid nightmare delivers in spades what It Follows only manages in spoonfuls. It’s short and as coppery-sweet as us True Believers’ like it. I hope it gets a theatrical, because horrorphiles would be served a grand injustice not to see this, loud, on the big screen.