Review: GONE IN THE NIGHT, Be Careful Outside of Your Comfort Zone
Kath is tired: she's getting older and feeling it. Despite a job and business she likes, her younger boyfriend perhaps has the opposite effect of what she had hoped. His boundless energy makes her feel the lack of her own even more, and she knows he's frustrated as she just can't seem to move out of her own, comfortable rut. So when she agrees to an adventure, she hopes it might give her the spark she needs. Well, it does give her a spark, but that soon ignites into quite a blaze.
Gone in the Night is something of an atypical sci fi thriller, reading like an extended Twilight Zone episode in content. Given that this is the feature debut of Eli Horowitz, the creator of the excellent 'Homecoming' podcast, this isn't surprising. It upends the thriller structure a bit, and asks questions a little bit differently on what it means to grow old, how scary it can be, and how we want to go gracefully into that good night.
Max (John Gallagher Jr) convinces his girlfriend Kath (Winona Ryder) to go to on a weekend getaway; driving north of the city, they find the cabin they booked is already occupied by (of course very creepy) Greta (Brianne Tju) and Al (Owen Teague). After an evening with some offhand yet cutting remarks about her age, Kath retires earlier than the others. The next morning, Al tells her that Greta and Max have run off together. Several weeks later, still unsettled about being ghosted, Greta gets in touch with the cabin's owner Barlow (Dermot Mulroney), and becomes an amateur detective as she slowly unravels the mystery of Max's whereabouts that take her somewhere unexpected, to put it very mildly.
Kath is definitely not some obsessed woman determined to make her ex-lover pay for how he treated her, but she understandably has lingering discomfort - was she really unhappy enough that she can just let this go, or did she hope for something else, something more fitting with the steady comfort she likely had settled into before she met Max? There is just enough doubt in herself, and feeling age catch up with her, that you can't blame her for wanting some kind of resolution.
Kath is the kind of amateur detective most of us would likely be; smart enough to figure out some basic clues, like calling the owner to try and track down Greta. But also it takes her a bit of time to figure out the truth - mainly because it's quite insane, and also because she's not quite sure if she wants to know. Her quiet curiosity, and more resignation over the situation, is a stark contrast to what really happened, that Horowitz slowly reveals before us in parallel. Kath's awkwardness and increasing confidence makes that vice tighten in a way that we don't notice until it's almost too late.
Ryder really carries this film, playing a version of herself as that person who was definitely cool in her younger years and is now trying to find the contentment she wants with sitting back and letting the younger ones go wild. But Tju is also a stand-out; she plays on the knife's edge of crazy and frightening, belying her small stature.
Gone in the Night meshes together a wild and quite villanous premise with a person just trying to navigate the slow oncoming inevitability of aging. A tight script and solid performances, plus more than a few surprises, will keep you guessing.
Gone in the Night
- Eli Horowitz
- Matthew Derby
- Eli Horowitz
- Winona Ryder
- Sedrick Cabrera
- John Gallagher Jr.