Nightlight may well be the thousandth “found footage” film made since The Blair Witch. While it is not really a “FF” movie, it is different from VHS, or Cloverfield in that the point of view (POV) is that of a flashlight and not a minicam. No central character is filming events to be found later and this makes Nightlight a tad more interesting.
Co-written and co-directed by Scott Beck and Bryan Woods the film follows a group of five teens who head to Covington Woods. The area is an infamous suicide spot and they plan on playing a game called nightlight.
One person sits blindfolded while the rest hide. The “victim” must find the others. The woods are a scary place. Tales of animals being thrown off cliffs and a haunted church are added to the suicide spot.
At the start of the film, Ethan (Kyle Fain) leaves a video message to his girlfriend. He explains that he is going to the woods to kill himself. He holds the flashlight that Robin (Shelby Young) uses throughout the movie.
The youngsters must try to survive the night as things begin to turn very weird and deadly.
Nightlight plays like a Halloween haunted house set in the middle of the forest. There are some decidedly creepy and unnerving sequences as well as a few obligatory jump scares. Somewhat amazingly, despite the haunted woods trying very hard to kill the group, it takes a long time for most of them to die.
While the time has come for found footage films to finally be laid to rest, this “first person” (or first flashlight) POV film works pretty well. Although it is doubtful that any flashlight (torch) could take the beating this one does and still function.
The storyline of the “popular” kids picking on the new girl may not be blazingly original but it works for the purposes of this film. One complaint has to do with the cell phone scene. Chris (Carter Jenkins) has his go off in his backpack. A friend is calling to see if he has managed to have sex with the “big boobed blonde yet.” In reality anyone under the age of 40 would have sent a text message rather than actually call.
Considering that the action takes place pretty much in the dark through the whole film, the lighting has been done well enough that nothing gets lost. There is a brilliant variation of lights going off in a hallway. In the woods there are lights that operate on sensors. As Nia (Chloe Bridges) and Robin watch in horror the lights turn on. The lights get closer and closer and the build up of suspense is very effective.
Beck and Woods picked the perfect setting for their horror film. The woods are scary at night. Added to the innate creepiness of being in an unfamiliar environment are sounds, both natural and unnatural, and sights that increase the scare factor.
There are a few too many shots of the flashlight beam moving over foliage and it does take a long time for the film to reach its conclusion. One last complaint has to do with the camera flash used at the end of the movie. A device simply done to death and it added nothing really.
Nightlight is a solid 3.5 star film. It does what it sets out to do quite nicely. Apart from that flashlight having the ability to take a lot of damage and still work the film manages not to stretch credibility too much. The film is streaming on Hulu at the moment and is definitely worth a look.