Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Love Hurts. And Then Some: Travis Baker's Mischief Night (2014)

Mischief Night (2014)
Rating: ***
Starring:  Brooke Anne Smith, Marc Valera, Nikki Limo
Directed: Travis Baker

Not to be confused with the 2013 slasher of the same name, Travis Baker’s Mischief Night centers on Kaylie, a lonely troubled prankster and babysitter who soon finds herself at the mercy of a masked maniac one night before Halloween (AKA “Mischief Night”), only to find her attacker astonished by her uncaring notion of death and couldn’t bring on himself to kill her.

Unsure what to do now, Kaylie and her should-be killer gather themselves up and decided to talk about their issues, somehow forming a bond that might lead to something more than mere friendship. As they cause harmless havoc across the street and watch the twilight skies, can this romance whole-fully change a killer? Or will his murderous instinct win at the end?

A bit unsung but definitely a fascinating variation to our slasher-in-the-house kick as Mischief Night twists the sub-genre into a bittersweet flick thanks to a rather charming duo played by Brooke Anne Smith as Kaylie and Marc Valera as simply "The Man", a couple varying in gender and age but similar in the sense that they both feel insignificant to the rest of the world and just want to be noticed.

To note, Kaylie have more spunk and life to share with her new friend while the man is the kind of patient and understanding figure Kaylie needed, as it was implicated on the very beginning of the film that she has some issues with her boyfriend from what could have been a disagreement between them; in a heartfelt way, these two lonesome beings are just the people they need to fill up their own personal voids and the little time they have together was one of the sweetest moments I’ve seen coming from a horror flick.

Of course, this being part-slasher, we are still treated with some stalk-and-kill action around the first third and a (not so large) bodycount that only occurred as snippets throughout an otherwise plot-driven movie. These serve as a reminder for us that there is still a conflict and the inevitability of people getting mortally hurt, as well as uncertainties of whether it is safe for them to be with one another. It all ties up quite nicely (if not upsetting) around the last act as everything devolves for the worse with a mean-spirited surprise and an ending that may divide an audience.

Production-wise, it’s a rather simple movie to look at with the best thing it can offer is its lead actors and a picturesque camera work, as well as a touching score that worked quite well with the scenes associated with them. Since the slasher portions where reduced to secondary elements however, it doesn’t boast a lot of gore effects and kept it simple with knife stabbings and a sort-of brutal dispatch of a preteen.

Romantic without being overly cheesy and not letting go of its horror elements, it’s a film made to either make you feel special or wary of the people you fall for. With all of this, Mischief Night is an altogether different bodycounting experience that focuses on human interactions all the while playing with our expectations of a bloodletting. I say give it a try but if you prefer a straight slasher, try the other 2013 Mischief Night instead.

1 female had her throat slashed with a knife
1 boy stabbed to death offcamera
1 boy killed offcamera
1 boy disemboweled
1 male knifed to death
Total: 5

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