Bad Night is that sleepy student who draws open eyes on their eyelids to convince you that they’re interested. But, if you were to poke them, they would fall backwards like a flimsy stage flat – likewise for this detatched action/comedy starring YouTube stars Lauren Elizabeth Luthringshausen and Jenn McAllister (aka. Jennxpenn).
The film has been brought to us by Chris and Nick Riedell – the directorial coupling who also brought us Camp Takota which also starred familiar YouTube faces. After watching both films, I can’t figure out the Riedells’ filmmaking methods. They either have an established trademark style, or they’re missing one altogether. Maybe their style is that they have no style. Their flare comes in the form of locked-off wide shots and flabby editing – hold onto your hats.
Chris and Nick somewhat got away with this static style in Camp Takota, a film about rekindling friendship during the doldrums of Summer. It was an acceptable, lazy river type of work. This drowsy patience doesn’t bode well for a high-octane action flick like Bad Night, a film catered to a younger crowd containing fight choreography, an art heist, drastic misunderstandings, and an adolescent night on the town. It feels like the film has stayed up past its bedtime and is calling it a day by the halfway mark.
Bad Night does rise to the occasion as best as it can. The action is far and few between, but the intention to be exciting does exist within the film’s lining. The filmmakers have lit the scenes correctly, utilized their locations well (especially a climactic fight inside a roller rink), and has a couple of notable stunts under its belt. These pieces don’t all come together, but with more of a push, the Riedells could’ve relished their new career highs.
Deadpan Lauren Elizabeth and doe-eyed Jennxpenn appear to be thankful that they’ve been given this opportunity to lead a movie, but they don’t present themselves in a way that suggests they’re remotely interested in Daniel Kinno’s screenplay. How can they when each scene procrastinates and drags on? You get a sense that these actors (including cameos by Casey Wilson, Adam Pally, Jack McBrayer, and June Diane Raphael) have been enabled to joke around for however long they want. Bits of comedic gold can be found this way, but editor Ed Yonaitis needed to find more self-discipline when sifting through the dailies.
Chris and Nick Riedell are allowed to make entertaining films that are basic, but they have to know what genre that approach fits in. I’m hoping they learn from their mistakes with Bad Night and workshop their craft for the future. Chris and Nick: just because Bad Night is a blemish, all is not lost.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie