Tuesday, December 13, 2011

7 Nights of Darkness and Wishing for Only Two: A Movie Review

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*full disclosure: a screener of this film was provided by Gravitas Ventures.

Director/writer: Allen Kellogg.

Cast: Thomas Cassell, Jessica A. Fleming and Jennifer Hoffman.

Remember MTV’s "Fear?" That is basically what writer/director Allen Kellogg is going for in his product, 7 Nights of Darkness. Unlike the television show, instead of five contestants, there are seven, and the terrors they face is more made up than based on actual facts. Had that been the case, since the real life property of Madison Seminary is allegedly haunted, then maybe the spirits within and the living participants would not look like rejects from a Japanese game show.

To those readers who are not familiar with the decade old show, game contestants are led into a location blindfolded and they are left alone. With hidden cameras to follow them, and equipment left for them to use, they are required to complete a series of dares that challenges their comfort zone. Sometimes the location includes a setting where a murder was committed. More often than not, the participant’s imagination is what scares them. But they have a choice to leave. By doing so, they forfeit the money they can only win if they survive two days and nights there.

With this film, the game contestants have to survive a harrowing seven days. Their reward of a million dollars is at stake. On each day, they have to face a series of tests but when considering that there are about 112 hours for them to live through, not including the hours spent sleeping, maybe boredom is the ultimate trickster. This movie is not too bad in imitating the decade old show, and the interviews with the rag-tag team are what move the story along. But the plot is paper-thin and to sit through the 90 minute film is perhaps the toughest test to deal with. This movie is literally begging for television commercials so the viewer can get that two-minute break to either visit the kitchen or answer the call of nature.

The pacing is perhaps the most distracting part of this movie. Another huge problem is the cussing and screaming going on. Not even MTV’s "Fear" was that bad; at least these people come through as more respectable and natural. The performers in 7 Nights of Darkness at least channel the same vibe of being Average Joes and Janes off the street, and none of them particularly stand out. They are very new to the scene and still have yet to prove themselves, just like this movie.

Kellogg’s product is not bad. When he’s simply borrowing from an idea that kickstarted the paranormal reality show genre and is taking concepts from the major films of that time, like Blair Witch, Ju-on and The Haunting (the remake), he is not going for originallity. The shaky cam effect is far too overused here, the white-faced charcoal-eyed ghosts moves in a familiar broken film camera motion and the doors being pounded off its hinges are techniques that are overused. Thankfully the game show format was been ditched after a few years. It’s just not all that great.

Overall: 4.5 out of 10.

*this title released on DVD November 8th and 7 Nights of Darkness is now available on Rogers, UVerse and many other video-on-demand platforms.

The film's fan page is here:

7 Nights of Darkness on Facebook

The full list of VOD platforms is available here:

VOD Release Platforms at Gravitas Ventures

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