Blood in the Snow Review: Night Cries
Night Cries comes to us from Good Soldier Films, the production company lead by the team of Andrew Cymek and Brigitte Kingsley. Cymek and Kingsley are best known for the comedy/sci-fi franchise Dark Rising in which Kingsley portrayed the ass-kicking Warrior of Worlds, Summer Vale. Cymek wrote and directed Night Cries and he and Kingsley take on the lead roles. Although the film includes some horror elements, it is not a horror film. Night Cries is better described as a thriller with a strong romantic component. It could, however, also be classified as an action film with sci-fi and fantasy aspects. Cymek must have had lofty aspirations when he wrote the story and it is a credit to his directing talents that he is able to juggle it all while keeping the picture entertaining and the plot fairly tight.
Night Cries tells the tale of Joseph Morgan (Cymek), a man who has spent the last year searching for his wife in an apocalyptic nightmare world. As the film opens, Joseph finds his wife just in time to defend her from a demon attack. Sarah (Kingsley) is suffering from memory loss and not only doesn’t immediately recognize Joseph but is also unable to remember anything that has happened to her until this moment. The remainder of the film chronicles Joseph’s attempts to keep Sarah safe and help her to remember their life together.
It isn’t long before Joseph and Sarah find themselves in conflict with a tyrannical ruler known as The Hat (due to his penchant for wearing various hats). The Hat is portrayed by the very recognizable Colin Mochrie, best known for his appearances on Whose Line Is It Anyway? Let me be perfectly clear. Night Cries is not a comedy. Comedic moments are few and far between and The Hat is a nasty piece of work. It is a bit of an uphill battle for Mochrie to overcome his regular congenial persona to take on the role of a serious villain. He largely succeeds by portraying The Hat in a cynical, smarmy manner. Everything is done with a smirk and a false charisma. This causes the viewer to be caught off-guard when The Hat’s reprehensible actions allow just a glimpse of the character under the surface. Instead of dismissively thinking “Yeah, but its Colin Mochrie”, you think “My God! How could that be Colin Mochrie!”
Night Cries does have a twist to it that I am loathe to give away because I think that it is clever and well executed if, perhaps, not entirely unique. The plot twist is not a surprise ending that feels forced and/or leaves you with the realization that everything you have been watching is a lie. On the contrary, the twist actually occurs quite early on, which makes it a little difficult to discuss the movie without giving the twist away. But suffice to say that before long you will learn that things are not exactly as they seem.
The performances in Night Cries are all quite strong and both Cymek and Kingsley are believable and likable as the leads. Cymek takes on the action hero mantle quite well and, despite a noticeable difference in stature between him and his opponents, is credible in the fight scenes. Kingsley, normally the warrior princess, allows her husband to be her saviour this time out. Kingsley gives a gut-wrenching performance in one scene in particular and instills Sarah with some real world vulnerability.
The film is beautifully shot and really has a polish to it that I do not always associate with independent films. There is even use of fairly sophisticated computer graphics that really felt well done. The most obvious example is Joseph’s side-kick/partner Caitlyn as voiced by Aislinn Paul. I’ll leave it to the viewer to discover Caitlyn’s charms but I was impressed with how well she was integrated into scenes. Maybe it is not Jurassic World level computer graphics but it doesn’t deter from the story. You don’t find yourself focusing on poor computer animation.
I greatly enjoyed the Dark Rising films and television series. I have also met Cymek and Kingsley on a few occasions and nicer people you are unlikely to find. I, therefore, wanted Night Cries to succeed but was also a little nervous about whether I would enjoy the film. Night Cries is very different from the over-the-top antics of Dark Rising. It didn’t take long, however, for Night Cries to earn my trust. By the time Joseph had pinned a demon to the roof of a school bus, I had forgotten any trepidations and was simply enjoying a new experience.
If I do have any complaint with Night Cries, it is that the story cannot be contained within the single film. I am not necessarily suggesting a direct sequel is in order as I think the film has a satisfactory ending without needing to tie off all loose ends. But I want to know more. I want to know Caitlyn’s backstory and how The Hat came to power. And most of all I want to know more about the mysterious Grey Lady and, if I ever run into her, should I be relieved or alarmed.
Night Cries makes its Canadian premiere at the Blood in the Snow Canadian Film Festival this Friday, November 27th at 9:30 pm. See the Blood in the Snow website for ticket information.
Night Cries is an entertaining thriller that will tug a little on your heart strings while giving you a glimpse into an intriguing landscape. Rather than churn out Dark Rising clones, Cymek and Kingsley have produced an ambitious picture with a little more depth to it.