Written and Directed by Neil LaBute. Featuring Maggie Q, Kat Foster, James Carpinello, Gia Crovatin, Travis Hammer, Ito Aghayere, Highdee Kuan, Kirstin Leigh, Laith Wallschleger, KeiLyn Durrel Jones, Treisa Gary, Roshni Shukla, and William Roth.
“Fear the Night” follows the journey of Tes, an Iraqi war veteran, as she gears up to retaliate against a gang of intruders who assault her sister’s bachelorette celebration. Tes discovers that these assailants are determined to eliminate any witnesses.
The film “Fear the Night,” crafted by writer/director Neil LaBute, delves into an excessive amount of setup, background information, and enigma. Unfortunately, it shapes up to be an ordinary home invasion flick that seemingly promotes the questionable idea that extreme paranoia holds some kind of validity. To be clear, while it’s true that women have valid concerns about their safety in public spaces, the movie exaggerates and misinterprets this reality. Additionally, the film seems to propagate a somewhat unhealthy notion that ordinary women need to be equipped with survival skills and weapons training.
The story revolves around a group of women attending a bachelorette party at a secluded residence, where they are mercilessly murdered by intruders on the hunt for money and drugs. The problematic lesson conveyed is that Tess (Maggie Q), a former Army professional, must exhibit fear and anxiety to survive. The implicit suggestion is that unless women are perpetually preparing for such situations, they’re not victims but rather deserving of their fate. This is the apparent message of the film, not a personal statement.
The convoluted theme of “Fear the Night” might have been more forgivable had the depiction of these women’s fight for survival been infused with tension and inventiveness. Regrettably, a substantial part of the movie is consumed by unremarkable dialogues in which the women formulate a plan. The execution of this plan is equally lackluster, and the attackers eliminate them swiftly with crossbows, robbing the scenes of weight and impact.
The film’s only potential source of intrigue is meant to reside in the strained relationship between Tess and her sister Beth (Kat Foster). They engage in constant arguments about their past and the negative energy Tess exudes, which dampens the atmosphere of their younger sister’s bachelorette gathering. This dynamic, sustained for roughly 30 minutes, is more irksome than engaging and fails to evoke viewer sympathy for the characters. Moreover, the development of this aspect is unclear and inadequately fleshed out, offering a half-hearted attempt to add depth to these uninspired characters. The antagonists themselves leave no lasting impression, frequently resorting to yelling and demanding cash whereabouts, despite it being evident they aren’t addressing the drug dealers who have been exploiting the empty house for illegal activities.
One notable moment transpires when the proceedings take a lurid and dark turn. One of the intruders threatens sexual assault against a woman. Noelle (Ito Aghayere) takes charge of the situation, skillfully manipulating the henchman’s desires, and along with Tess, takes down the men in a violent confrontation. This sequence is the sole instance of inspired action and gore in the film. Subsequently, an epilogue features a sexist Sheriff who refuses to believe that Tess, even with her Army background, could have fought back. This sentiment is valid in highlighting the existence of individuals like him, yet it feels shoehorned into an already unwieldy movie.