Hostility is something whichseems to be a word that follows American culture. But what if that hostility is born through boredom? Tim Sutton’s Dark Night, almost acts as the white noise you hear after chaos, in this case the 2012 mass shooting in Aurora, Colorado, where James Holmes murdered 12 and wounded 70 at a midnight showing of Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rise.
Centring around six strangers who are going about their daily lives before the act of terror happens. Each character has their flaws and it becomes very apparent, any one of them could be capable of a mass shouting – even though you never see exactly what happens.
Before the violence, there are a swathe of selfies, video games, vape pens and angst, building a lingering sense of dread within this portrait of “normal.” Most of the performers remain unnamed and dialogue is scarce. Dark Night has a very art house feel to it, with all the shots having an aesthetically pleasing feel to them, it almost feels like a false documentary in the way the loose “story” is told. With barely any dialogue or soundtrack, Sutton relies of the clicking of a gun, the snapping of a camera or the screams of fury to break through the tension.
Even though it may not be immediately apparent what the hell is going on – it takes a good 20 minutes into the film before we get any semblance as to what these people are doing – there is an ever-present theme, even if it is just bubbling under the surface, violence. We watch soldiers discuss dealing with PTSD and an older woman share a harrowing tale of surviving cancer. The significance of these parallels is in the inevitability. War kills. Cancer kills. Guns kill.
In a political climate, especially in the USA where Donald Trump proves fascist evils aren’t bound to the past — makes the film’s cynical mosaic all the more discomfiting.
There is a sense in Dark Night that Sutton is trying ti push is own agenda of violence can and will happen no matter what, and it is this message which does turn things a bit sour – one scene shows one of the characters running around the neighbourhood with a gun pretending he is going to shoot his crush – it just screams of personal opinion at times.
Cinematically Dark Night is a beautiful film with a bleak tale, the lack of dialogue and clear indicators of narrative may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but if you are invested from start to finish the relief felt with the pay off at the end is one of gratification.
Dir: Tim Sutton
Scr: Tim Sutton
Cast: Eddie Cacciola, Anna Rose Hopkins, Robert Jumper, Karina Macias, Conor A. Murphy, Aaron Purvis, Rosie Rodriguez, Kirk S. Wildasin Iii
DOP: Hélène Louvart
Prd: Alexandra Byer
Run time: 85 minutes