01st Jul2020

‘Devil’s Night: Dawn of the Nain Rouge’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Jesi Jensen, Nathan Mathers, Sam Logan Khaleghi, Jerry Narsh, Swifty McVay, Grover McCants, Napolean, John C. Forman, Andrew Dawe-Collins, Ammar Nemo, Amy Andrews, Jay Towers, Keyna Reynolds, Shelby Bradley, Gabrielle Wild | Written by Sam Logan Khaleghi, Aaron Herman Russman | Directed by Sam Logan Khaleghi

Devil’s Night: Dawn of the Nain Rouge is, on paper, an intriguing prospect… Part crime thriller, part supernatural horror, the film follows a pair of local police officers from a small town just outside of Detroit being plagued by mysterious murders. As the evidence mounts up, they can no longer deny the presence of a long forgotten supernatural entity, the Nain Rouge, the city’s harbinger of doom. See told you it was intriguing… Whats even more intriguing is that the film stars Nathan Mathers, younger brother of Eminem and features music from Eminem’s D12 bandmate Swifty McVay – who also has a role in the movie as the mayor of Detroit.

Speaking of Detroit, Devil’s Night: Dawn of the Nain Rouge is very much a homegrown product. We have cast members from Detroit, a filmmaker from Detroit, the film is set in Detroit and the urban legend that forms the basis of this film is from Detroit. Yes, for those that don’t know – and I’ll admit I had to look it up – the titular Nain Rouge (or “Red Dwarf” in French) is a Detroit based urban legend dating back to the days of the city’s founder, Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac. A sighting of the Nain is said to predict misfortune and there’s no more misfortune than what happens to people in this movie!

Whilst Devil’s Night: Dawn of the Nain Rouge feels like a throwback to the regional films and filmmakers of the shot-on-video era, the film itself couldn’t be further from it visually. This film looks GOOD. Like really good. Like made for considerably more money than it probably was good. The film makes great use of light and dark, with a foreboding use of shadows suggesting that not all is well in Detroit. Those fantastic visuals are matched only by the haunting soundtrack, which oftentimes uses just simple piano chords to generate of sense of dread – again tying into the horror elements of this film. A film whose production values, including the myriad of special effects, puts other independent films to shame.

Speaking of horror, Devil’s Night: Dawn of the Nain Rouge walks a fine line between horror and police drama, often flitting back and forth between the genres as the story develops – before ultimately settling on the horror elements as the final third unfolds. A final third that actually sees the titular Nain Rouge appear on screen (literally a red dwarf, sometimes wearing a hoodie) as Detroit goes to hell in a handcart! Thankfully, whilst the film flips and flops between genre tropes it has a core cast that holds all the elements together, none moreso than Jesi Jensen, playing army vet turned cop Billie, whose performance is – beyond anything else in the movie – a true highlight.

I honestly don’t know what I expected from a supernatural cop movie, and an independent one at that, but what I got from Devil’s Night: Dawn of the Nain Rouge was a fantastic surprise. One that belies any expectations, any preconceived ideas I may have had, to deliver a solid, enjoyable thrill ride through the streets of a devil-filled Detroit.

Devil’s Night: Dawn of the Nain Rouge is out now on DVD and Digital, in the US, from Cinedigm.


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