After a tragedy, a countdown subtly begins as to when a filmmaker will try to document the event’s emotions and peril in a movie. The act of making a movie about Aurora, Colorado’s massacre during a screening of The Dark Knight Rises never occurred to me. Then again, I also didn’t expect Patriot’s Day, a film about the Boston Marathon bombing released four years after the attack.
One day, a film may tastefully chronicle or be inspired by the infamous Colorado shooting, but Tim Sutton’s Dark Night is not that film. Instead, selfish writer/director Tim Sutton trivializes the tragedy to showcase his pretentious filmmaking. Oh, and to also own the title of “first movie based on a movie theatre shooting”.
Dark Night doesn’t take place in Colorado, nor does it take place at a screening of The Dark Night Rises. It does, however, take place within a single day where the audience can quietly observe average, redundant routines before a life-changing screening of Dark Night. Not the Dark Night we’re watching; a movie-within-the-movie also called Dark Night. Are you annoyed yet? If not, perhaps the random contrast of murmurs and shouts will push you over the edge. Or, the echoey music by Maica Armata that sounds as if it was recorded in an aluminium garbage can. Or, an image of a suspected killer donning a Batman cowl and practically looking into the camera.
The film is trying to follow in the footsteps of Gus Van Sant’s Elephant, the Palme d’Or winner from Cannes ’03 that meticulously mirrored rampage within a school shooting. Elephant divided audiences, but at least it gave movie goers enough to invest. It’s why we were scared and confused when students started getting shot. Dark Night provides some broad stereotypes and proposes a guessing game, challenging the audience to choose who is going to shoot up the movie theatre by the end.
So, what is Tim Sutton trying to convey with Dark Night? That we’re too wrapped up in our own lives to notice evil among us? That the perpetrator is usually the most obvious? That a public tragedy can happen to anyone at any time? These are all cynical messages, but it would’ve given the film a hypothesis to build off of. By choosing to be empty, Dark Night delivers nothing but navel-gazing nonsense.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie