Combustible Celluloid
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With: Shelby Young, Chloe Bridges, Carter Jenkins, Mitch Hewer, Taylor Ashley Murphy, Kyle Fain
Written by: Scott Beck, Bryan Woods
Directed by: Scott Beck, Bryan Woods
MPAA Rating: R for language throughout including sexual references, and some violence
Running Time: 85
Date: 03/27/2015

Nightlight (2015)

1 Star (out of 4)

Dim Bulbs

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

The 1999 breakthrough movie The Blair Witch Project has inspired dozens of imitations and knock-offs, but perhaps none so close to the source and yet so uninspired as Nightlight. In a baffling, and constantly distracting device, the movie uses flashlights as the "cameras" that record all action and sound. If the light goes out, the picture and sound both cut out. Whenever something "scary" appears, it's either obscured or gone too fast, thanks to the swishing, jerking effect.

In the story, shy Robin (Shelby Young) finally has a chance to hang out with a boy she likes, Ben (Mitch Hewer). Unfortunately, she has been invited for a game of "nightlight," which takes place in some scary woods. The woods are rumored to have strange, evil forces living within, and there are rules to be followed (never carve your name anywhere). The game begins, and it's basically hide-and-seek with flashlights, and Robin soon finds herself lost and scared. She finds the stuck-up Nia (Chloe Bridges), who seems to be helplessly falling asleep and exhibiting other strange behaviors. Eventually, Robin's secret comes out; her best friend committed suicide in these woods, and she blames herself. Will the friends ever get out of the woods alive?

Heavy-handed music and sound effects provide a sudden, percussive "WHAM!" every time we're supposed to be scared. Not one image or idea in the movie hasn't been used before, including the "character with his back to the camera" bit, and the "camera" flying and landing cockeyed on the floor. The characters barely exist, their behavior is puzzling, and their reasons for being in the woods ("let's play a scary game!") are ridiculous. Perhaps worse, the movie clumsily uses teen suicide as a running theme. It's lights out for this one.

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