Girls Night Out
13 Mar 2022
Rebecca Tierney, Maria Lynas, Ross Crawford
A quick IMDb search throws up no less than twenty-five features, shorts and series trading under the name of Girls Night Out. They date from 1982 all the way up to the present day and mostly fit into the Bridesmaids(2011) category of shock, gross-out comedy but also sometimes with a bit of edgy thriller thrown in for good measure.
The girls are obviously out for a good time, be that at a bachelorette party, celebrating a divorce, or somehow or other recapturing their youth – but things don't often go to plan. There's usually a guy involved – a hot one – more often than not a stripper, and he takes a tumble or a hit on the head or a heart attack and suddenly there's blood on the girls' hands. Cue conflict and haphazard resolution and repeat ad nauseam.
Thankfully writer/director Linda Scott has managed to avoid the main pitfalls of another night out gone wrong story in her own short film in the Girls Night Out pantheon. Sidestepping the worn out conventions of the other movies she instead focuses her themes and characters to keep her film more in the vein of Animals (2018) or more directly Our Ladies (2019).
Here we follow Scots teenagers Ange (Rebecca Tierney) and Becca (Maria Lynas) as they pull the oldest trick in the book on Ange's mum and head into Glasgow for a night out on the town. Despite not having a plan their spirits are high and the girls are ready to see what the night brings. After their initial giddy excitement and the following total washout the inevitable predatory male figure then rears his ugly head and now the girls have to deal with what it really means to be a young female trying to have a good time on a night out in the city.
Scott has said that she wanted to address the problem of hyper-sexualising young women as well as highlighting their struggle to express their desires in a world that tries to limit their freedom. The characters of Ange and Becca help her to do this nicely, as do both actresses who naturally inhabit and breathe life into the two teenage girls. Their dialogue is rhythmic and colloquial, helping to keep the feel of realism and the idea that these could be any two girls in any town around the country, and the obvious hierarchy in their relationship helps add the frisson of excitement and danger that Scott is looking for.
Everything in the film, from the lighting to the locations, is stripped back to keep things as real as possible, and as the girls move from the fun part to the dangerous part of the night this really starts to take effect. Ross Crawford is suitably seedy as 'the Artist' who preys on the girls, but realistically any guy could have been placed into that role with the same effect. Only in Glasgow could two young girls get away from a potentially life-threatening situation with a shout of 'You're a fanny', but otherwise it's the universality of the story that will keep the audience engaged.
Unless they've seen Our Ladies.
And this is where Scott's film loses out somewhat. The idea and execution is all very well, and even has flashes of real artistic sensibility, but when it retreads the exact same ground as a full length feature which has already told the story bigger and better and most importantly beforehand, then it doesn't hold as much muster as it could have.
There's plenty to unpick and enjoy in Scott's film but ultimately it only serves as an hors d'oeuvre or an amuse-bouche to give a taste of the themes and ideas it lays out. If you want a full-fat feature that you can sink your teeth into to get a real flavour of the themes involved, Our Ladies might well be the better option.