Starring Michael Parle, Jack Dean-Shepherd, Claire Blennerhassett and Sarah Louise Carney.
Written and Directed by Gerard Lough
“A pair of professional but mismatched criminals break into a house with a dark past that is about to make its presence felt. Their story soon intertwines with two other sinister tall tales”. Via IMDb.
When I first started writing for this site, my main ambition was to be able to discover those little hidden gems in the horror genre. The ones that, for one reason or another, get no marketing or are completely overlooked. Last year I found three absolute corkers that I had NEVER heard of, Cruel Summer, Aimy In A Cage and The Horror Network. Two of those made it into my top ten of the year.
I’d never heard a single thing about Night People. Would it be along the lines of those three, or would it be another forgettable horror?
The setup is similar to cult micro-budget horror The Devil’s Business. Two criminals, a wise veteran (Michael Parle) and fresh-faced rookie (Jack Dean-Shepherd) are sitting waiting it out in an empty house to do a dodgy insurance job on it. While they wait, the older gent tells two scary stories, simply to pass the time. So we have a contained chiller mixed with the anthology format.
And it also mixes genres, the first a sci-fi tinged tale of two mates making a strange trans-dimensional discovery, as one character states “Serious H.P. Lovecraft territory”. It’s well-paced and imaginative. The second is a modern twist on vampire mythology involving a businesswoman (Claire Blennerhassett) who runs fetishistic dating agency, and finds herself way over her head. It all rounds off into the main story…
What can I say, this film was great. I mean really great. Aside from the usual micro-budget technical problems (some wonky editing, patchy sound recording, the odd iffy performance, hit and miss FX) Night People shows so much imagination and ambition it’s hard to fault it. Director Lough captures the Irish surroundings brilliantly, and like the aforementioned Lovecraft, there are plenty of other influences at work here. Lough is clearly a big genre fan, name dropping Kubrick and with some very Del Toro props (you’ll know what I mean). The visuals and pulsing Electro soundtrack recall the work of Michael Mann, especially in the second story. What’s more, the amount of characters and locations utilised really lends a bigger feel to what I’m guessing was a very low-budget production.
Central performances are convincing across the board, even if some dodgy sound work let’s the line reading down sometimes. Standouts are Michael Parle and Claire Blennerhassett. The former has a great screen presence and has an offbeat, relaxed quality that lends a quirkiness to his scenes; the latter fully convincing as a confident woman who begins to question her own morals the deeper down the rabbit hole she goes.
Something that has come to annoy in the past few months are so-called cinematic geniuses like Quentin Tarantino and Christopher Nolan crying out that digital is shit and film is the only worthwhile format. Shot on Canon HD digital cameras, Night People is a perfect example of why they are talking bullshit. If it wasn’t for the digital format, films like this, from filmmakers like Lough, just would not exist. It’s as simple as that. And for filmmakers such as Nolan and Tarantino, who came from such DIY roots, to try and squash the hopes of talented but penniless filmmakers drives me mad!
But, back to Night People. You should catch it, hunt it down. It’s not perfect (and more gore would have been welcome) but it’s an ambitious, stylishly made little neon-lit horror, full of imagination and twists on conventions. Now that this is under his belt, I look forward to seeing what Lough comes up with next.