Low to mid budget horror movies are thick on the ground these days. They're an easy entry into the film industry, having been used to get a foot in the door by such luminaries as Joe Dante and Sam Raimi. They tend to be mediocre at best, though there are a number of them that are inventive, crazy and enjoyable. Joe Davison's As Night Falls certainly isn't perfect, but it's fast paced, funny, and a bit disturbing, which is a good mix for horror. And it features Debbie Rochon, which hasn't hurt a film yet.
Lizzie (Deneen Melody) is a slightly tomboyish young lady who wants nothing more to do than put her little sister Holly (Lily Cardone) to bed, and relax in her isolated country home with her boyfriend Otto (Dwight Cenac, who also produced) who's just returned from a tour with his rock band. Lizzie's mother works out of town a lot, and her father recently passed away, a fact that concerns her older brother, local cop Charlie (Joe Davison, also the writer and director). Unfortunately for Lizzie, Otto's friends have scheduled a big party to welcome him back, at Lizzie's house. Also, a pair of evil ghosts attached to the property, played by Debbie Rochon and Michael Ellison, are intent on killing everyone at the house, eating their souls, etc.
As one might expect with this kind of film, it doesn't take long for the deaths to start. The ghosts here are more akin to zombies, in that they seem to have corporeal form, can heft axes and pitchforks, and inflict physical harm with lethal force against humans without too much trouble. There is the normal amount of stupid decision making, e.g. folks going out in the woods separately and in small groups to look for the mysterious little girl they've been seeing, who is the ghostly daughter of the dangerous mother and father ghosts. But there's also a lot of determination to not be cowed, to fight back, and prove Manly Wade Wellman's assertion that evil loses most of its power when forthrightly confronted.
As Night Falls could easily have fallen into the stock "beautiful people in jeopardy" box and stayed there, but it is much more interested in being an enjoyable horror romp, a task at which it largely succeeds. There's a likeable enough cast of characters at the party, mostly there to generate a hefty body count, but each given enough personality and distinctive traits to stand out, and performed well enough that we mostly believe what is going on. The ghost effects and makeup are pretty decent, and the blood and gore are exuberant and fun as well. Deneen Melody and Dwight Cenac have good chemistry, and make empathetic leads, and Lily Cardone and Joe Davison provide strong support.
There are some flaws, to be sure. There's a bit of backstory database style information dump to get us up to speed on the situation as it stands. There are a few less than exemplary performances, and the internal logic of the plot isn't exactly airtight. But As Night Falls doesn't take itself entirely seriously. These people are clearly having fun, playing things a bit overblown and a lot cheesy to get the effect they want. (The levitating battle outside of a speeding van between Otto and the evil mother is only the primary example of this tendency.) If you don't like your horror films a little on the silly side, you won't like this film. But I enjoyed it, quite a bit. Recommended.
Behind the Scenes
Dude and Pennywise
As Night Falls Trailer
Breaking Glass Trailers