Review by Sean Boelman
A good minimalist thriller can be nice, taking a simple concept and milking suspense out of it. That is what Seth McTigue’s Take the Night seems to be doing at first, but when it turns into more of a morality tale heading into the final act, it loses much of its steam and becomes merely average.
The film follows a man who organizes a prank kidnapping of his brother, only for things to go awry when he hires career criminals who have more sinister plans. It’s an intriguing concept — taking something darkly humorous and turning it into something that is much more anxiety-inducing.
However, the initial intrigue of the movie wears off around the halfway mark, where it reveals its hand way too early. It’s a concept that was perhaps better suited to a short than a feature, because the first half is downright exceptional and then it seems to have no idea what it’s doing for the remainder of its runtime.
The very different direction that it takes for the last forty-five minutes also really confuses the themes of the movie. It’s clear that it’s trying to do something morally complex with the characters, especially the criminals, but it ends up feeling entirely underbaked by the end of the eighty-minute runtime.
Indeed, cutting back and forth between the two groups of characters prevents the audience from really connecting with either one, especially when combined with the fact that neither of them is doing something that is particularly good. It’s hard to truly like either one of them, which puts an unfortunate amount of distance between the audience and the characters.
For a cast that doesn’t have any big names in it, they do a decent enough job in their roles. On their own, it doesn’t feel like any of them could have carried the film, but as an ensemble picture, their performances suffice. That said, what is missing from this is a big villainous performance to bring it all home.
And given that this is McTigue’s feature debut, the execution is surprisingly decent. It’s clear that the film’s budget isn’t all that high, as evidenced by the minimal amount of action, but it makes the most out of what it has. Especially when the movie is confined in location, it gives you quite the sense of claustrophobia.
Take the Night is mildly entertaining, and that might be enough to recommend it to those looking for a quick eighty-minute watch. However, with the potential that it shows in the first half, this should have been something more.
Take the Night is now in theaters and hits VOD on July 12.