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Night at the Cinema

Critic:

Patrick Foley

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Posted on:

15 May 2022

Film Reviews
Night at the Cinema
Directed by:
Meosha Bean
Written by:
Animated Horror Flicks
Starring:
Bradford A Wilson, Justin Griffith
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Normally, the scares that are provided in movie theatres come courtesy of the films being played on the big screen. But as Night at the Cinema demonstrates, sometimes the moviegoing experience can be exploited by real-life monsters.

 

When John (Bradford A Wilson) is stood-up by his friends at the movies, he decides to go and see a film by himself. As he sits alone in the cinema, he notices the glare of an unknown man (Justin Griffith) further down his aisle. As the man’s staring makes him more and more uncomfortable, John decides to leave. But when he realises that he left his phone behind, he has a choice as to whether to confront the danger he has sensed…

 

It's clear that Night at the Cinema’s mission statement is that public spaces can be made deeply hostile places by dangerous and threatening people who choose to inhabit them. Key to the film’s impact in this regard is its use of a man as the protagonist rather than a woman. The scenario presented is one that women will likely find familiar – but which men themselves do not experience as often. Whilst not outrightly stated, this scenario-reversal makes for a powerful statement about how society makes people feel, and how places that should be open to the public for enjoyment can quickly become traumatic and intimidating if behaviours and culture are not modified.

 

The film is robbed of plenty of it’s tension by the decision to use John as a storyteller – recounting his experience to viewers who ultimately know that he will survive his night at the cinema. The voiceover involves an abundance of exposition, even in places where it is highly unnecessary – and this harms the impressive visual storytelling we see from director Meosha Bean which would have been largely enough for viewers to understand what is happening without it being directly explained got them. Whilst traditional horror scares may not be the film’s ultimate purpose, it’s message would have been better served by a greater uncertainty as to John’s fate.

 

The inclusion of apparent supernatural elements also confuses matters a little towards the film’s conclusion. It’s unclear whether factors like the ‘trap’ set for John, or his friends abandoning him is meant to be the result of a sinister unseen power, or just a series of unfortunate events that he experiences. It doesn’t quite rob the film of its power – and the final image we see is still powerful and captures the ultimate message and theme perfectly. But the inclusion does feel unnecessary, unnatural to the story, and forced upon the film by its genre.

 

For a five-minute short, Night at the Cinema tells an intense and gritty horror story which executes an important message about very real traumatic and terrifying experiences people face – which is the ultimate aim for any horror film. It does feels however that the film would benefit from a little less hand-holding with its voiceover, and trust the impressive visual storytelling we see to get its theme across.

About the Film Critic
Patrick Foley
Patrick Foley
Digital / DVD Release, Short Film