The Dead of Night is one of the more unique smaller thrillers with an independent release this decade so far.
Violent masked drifters, dressed as wolves, arrive in a small rural town. Someone discovers the bodies of young couple who are premsuably the citims of murder. Their bodes lay not far from a ranch whose owners are brother and sister Tommy (Jake Etheridge) and June (Colby Crain). Eventually, the siblings find themselves under the terror and torment of those alleged murderers.
All of the acting is pretty good. That’s especially true with Matthew Lawrence as a sheriff investigating the case of the horrific murders occurring in the town. Jake Ethridge is also great as one of the owners of the ranch. He starts to do some investigative work of his own on the current deaths. That’s after being suspected by the sheriff of committing these violent acts.
Director John Dean does a wonderful job at creating an interesting setting being a small western town. The location has a lot of personality with small diners and a nice local feel to it where everyone knows one another. Being accompanied by gorgeous cinematography including wide shots of massive deserts and surrounding mountains. During night scenes, viewers can hear crickets and wildlife moving about the wilderness.
Throughout the film, one element that works well is that nearly all of the deaths are mostly off-screen. Leaving it up to your imagination. So when a body is found it is more shocking and suspenseful. With the killers being dressed up as wolves scenes can be more intense because they blend into the grass. So at first, you aren’t always sure if it is a real wolf or one of them.
An aspect of the film that really could have been improved upon is character development. None of the characters have very much development or anything to make them stand out. There a few minor discussions about previous relationships and the relationship between the siblings but they are very brief. So by the end of the film, it doesn’t fully flesh anyone out enough for you to care.
The film can have some very distracting editing choices throughout its run time. Some scenes can build up to something like an animal escaing a hunt. But before anything can happen, the scene changes abruptly. Even some of the more creepy and action-focused scenes can have odd edits at times making them less intense.
Overall, The Dead Of Night is a good suspenseful thriller taking place in a rare location for this genre.