Stars: Michael Parle, Jack Dean-Shepherd, Claire Blennerhassett, Sarah Louise Carney, Aidan O’Sullivan, Eoin Leahy, Kieran Kelly, Michael McLaughlin, Philip Doherty | Written and Directed by Gerard Lough
Night People is an Irish anthology horror – comprising of three tales – from writer and director Gerard Lough. Clearly made on a low budget, that doesn’t dampen the enthusiasm and vision that Lough has pumped into the film.
Starting in a manner reminiscent of recent anthology horror V/H/S, two shifty types break into a house with a plan to burn it to the ground. While they wait for their window of opportunity, they entertain themselves by telling creepy stories. Each takes a turn, which forms the first and second stories of the anthology, and the wrap up with our two protagonists forms the third tale.
The first story revolves around a strange artefact, and the double crossing and doubt that can interfere with a friendship when greed and uncertainty sets in. The second, in a tonal shift, deals with a sexual “fixer”; a woman who makes a living arranging encounters for those with unconventional preferences.
The performances throughout are surprisingly good. There are one or two slightly flatter turns, but for the most part everyone represents themselves well. Of particularly note is Michael Parle playing one half of the duo in the film’s interleaved story. He’s a real delight. He looks suitably creepy, and has great charisma. It’s a bit of shame he isn’t given more to do, and his performance overshadows some of the performances within the other segments. Also of note is Claire Blennerhassett who plays the second story’s fixer Faustina. That character name should give you some clue to as to where that particular story goes too.
The film is mostly well shot, at times at the mercy of its low budget, but there’s some lovely night work and use of lens flare. It’s also accompanied by a great electronic soundtrack from Cian Furlong. I found that despite the low budget, I was genuinely interested to see where each story ended up. Various details are left open ended, which I actually quite enjoyed. There’s scope to fill in your own “head cannon” and develop some of the blanks that the film presents. The second story in particular deals with some really interesting issues, with a script that never feels clunky or awkward.
The special effects are respectable for the budget too. There are a couple of central props for each story which are well conceived and don’t look out of place on film. Enough care’s been taken when using CGI effects to make sure they don’t try to do too much, which is a wise choice.
Night People is not a particularly fast-paced offering. It can be pretty talky, and it did feel that at times the editing could have been a bit tighter. I felt like the overall runtime could have been trimmed down a little – but maybe I just wanted to get back and see more of Michael Parle!
If you’re willing to look beyond it’s low budget and just enjoy the story telling and ambition, Night People could well be of interest to you. I’m not sure I’ve ever come across an Irish horror anthology before, so it also has that unique distinction.
After successfully screening across Ireland, Night People comes to VOD worldwide on May 9th.