Maggie Q is a force of nature. I’m always absolutely enthralled when I see her on screen, and her performance in Fear the Night did not disappoint. I’m not naive. RotundReviews will never get me screeners for Hollywood blockbusters and it doesn’t get me invites to film festivals… it doesn’t even qualify me for digital press passes for 99% of them. It does, however, get me a wide variety of indie films that I’ve grown to love over the years. In every genre, and many sub-genres, I have films that I recommend based on reviews that I’ve done on this site. Films that most people have never heard of, that exist because of the passion of the creators and performers involved. Fear the Night is now one of those films.
The premise is quite simple. A group of unlikely individuals are forced to defend against a home invasion. There are dozens of films in this genre, and hundreds more with a similar premise, where the location, attackers, or victims change slightly. Yet, somehow, Fear the Night stands out for me. It held my focus from start to finish for a number of reasons. The most obvious one, however, was Maggie Q’s performance as Tess. She was completely believable from start to finish, with one exception… a choice that was made at the end of the film is the only reason why this otherwise 5-star film, only gets 4.5-stars.
You see, Tess is a veteran. She was wounded in combat and has struggled since returning stateside. While she has her shit together at the moment, she has struggled with alcoholism and it is revealed in the moments prior to the action kicking off, that she has maintained her sobriety for more than 6 months. I thought this was admirable and a nice touch of realism to add to the film. In the film, we see her struggle with social interactions and consider drinking, but she perseveres and refrains from drinking… until the end of the film, when the dust settles, Tess has a drink and, in my eyes, that diminished the character and everything that she accomplished. For me, it was the single weak point in an otherwise stellar film.
We also have to talk about Kat Foster and Ito Aghayere, who play Beth and Noelle respectively. However, to explain their roles, we need to talk a bit more about the story. In the film, Rose (Highdee Kuan) is getting married and her sister, Beth (Foster), is throwing her a bachelorette at their parent’s vacation home. That’s how these eight women find themselves in a home, in the middle of no where, without phone service, when the invasion happens. Tess is Rose and Beth’s sister, but she isn’t a part of the group. The tension between Tess and Beth is palpable and that comes across so well because of how gifted Maggie Q is, but also because of how well Kat Foster plays Beth. I don’t think that I’ve ever come across a character on screen that I disliked as quickly as I disliked Beth. It was one of those roles where the actor does such an impressive job that you start to feel anger toward the person behind the character and need to remind yourself that they are simply doing their job and, given the feelings you have, they are clearly doing it well.
Similarly, Ito Aghayere is a powerhouse in the film. I was already a fan after she played Guinan on Star Trek: Picard, but the way she carried herself in this film was impressive. While she doesn’t have a huge role, there is a moment, and you’ll know it when you see it, where she steals the show. She is completely captivating and holds the attention of everyone, on screen and off. That scene culminates when she delivers one of my favorite lines in the film… a line that I won’t share in order to avoid any spoilers.
Fear the Night takes a simple premise and delivers. It is like when you visit a restaurant and see your favourite dish. Sure, it is simple and every restaurant serves it, but you know that you’ll order it and love it just because of what it is. Then, the dish arrives, and you’re blown away. The structure is the same as it is every time you order it. The ingredients and recipe have little variation, yet somehow, this restaurant, has elevated the dish and made it something memorable. That’s what Fear the Night did for me with the basic home invasion thrill. It made it memorable.
Do yourself a favour and check out this film as soon as possible… you’ll enjoy it.
Fear the Night was released on July 21.
Fear the Night
Movie title: Fear the Night
Movie description: Eight women attend a bachelorette party at a remote farmhouse in the California hills. They are interrupted by the arrival of masked intruders who surround the place and begin shooting arrows at the home and the guests. One partygoer—Tess, a military veteran who is fighting her addictions and her difficulty at fitting in with other people—leads the women in making a stand against the attackers as they fight back in an effort to save themselves over the course of a single dark night.
Date published: 2023-07-21
Director(s): Neil LaBute
Actor(s): Maggie Q, Kat Foster, Travis Hammer, Gia Crovatin, Ito Aghayere, Highdee Kuan, Kirstin Leigh, Brenda Meaney, Roshni Shukla
White Knuckle Flick