Fear the Night review – Neil LaBute on losing streak with atrocious home invasion thriller | Film

In the most dismaying possible way, Neil LaBute has done it again. The dramatist and film-maker who gave us the 90s toxic masculinity classic In the Company of Men and the interesting and undervalued Samuel L Jackson thriller Lakeview Terrace in 2008, seems now to be going through a period of churning out exploitation content like a hack-for-hire. Last year we had the dismal revenge horror House of Darkness; now it’s this terrible home invasion thriller, with awful acting, clunking dialogue cues and drearily ungripping action and suspense sequences, along with a ChatGPT-ish title.

Maggie Q plays Tess, a military veteran who has seen action in Iraq and is now a recovering alcoholic struggling with a return to civilian life. She agrees to come to her sister’s bachelorette party (despite being out of place with all the girly types), and the bride-to-be has implausibly decreed this should take place in the big old remote house once occupied by her recently deceased parents, a place where there is – in accordance with time-honoured movie tradition – no mobile phone coverage. They all show up and find themselves under attack for a bizarrely elaborate reason. Much later, a gloomy epilogue has a misogynist sheriff disbelieve Tess’s version of events, which is not completely unreasonable of him. It could be a screenwriting way of sneakily conceding how weirdly contrived it has all been.

Maggie Q gives an utterly lifeless, charmless, undirected performance; there are some scenes at the beginning where she is boorish and disagreeable with her other, uptight sister, presumably so we can see the tough, down-to-earth attitude that is going to save these ungrateful whiny-civilian types in the end. But it doesn’t feel as if she has been vindicated in any interesting way. This is a waste of time and streaming pixels.

Fear the Night is released on 25 September on digital platforms.


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