Friday, July 2, 2021

Night Vision

Night Vision
Michael Krueger

Andy Archer (Stacy Carson) arrives in the big city to follow his dreams of being a writer. He has a difficult time supporting himself and takes a job at a VHS rental store where he falls in love with his co-worker, Jill (Shirley Ross). He also befriends a small-time criminal named Vinnie (Tony Carpenter). Vinnie gives him a stolen VCR as a present. Andy finds a tape in the VCR that shows a recording of a strange ritual. It also begins to give him visions of the future.

The biggest surprise of Night Vision is the eerie atmosphere it evokes. By keeping the cult and the contents of the haunted video tape mostly obscured. We see the cult in action just a little bit but other than knowing they have Satanic connections; they are a bunch of alien weirdos. The haunted VCR displays vague unsettling images and abstract flashes. Night Vision takes the campiest element of its plot and transforms it into something surreal which in turn plays against the very broad comedy of the rest of the film.

The real horror.

The Denver, Colorado of Night Vision is a cartoonish den of crime, poverty, and short-tempered smartass citizens. Andy claims he’s from Kansas without ever stating a city but it is a place so backwoods that he doesn’t understand how hotels work. It’s a place where cloaked cultists roam the streets at night and 10-year-old kids regularly try and steal VHS porn from a rental place the size of a closet. Everyone who lives there is cagey and eager to use other people. In contrast is a character so guileless that he gladly falls in with the first opportunist hustler he meets.

A satanic VCR is an idea ripe for over-the-top storytelling, so to the turn the tables and pull off a character study out of that ends up being a delightful subversion. Instead of still horror we are forced to watch as the idealistic Andy is slowly ground down by this city and its inhabitants. The way the VCR and its contents hollow out Andy can be seen as the various forces of the city at work on him as he naively tries to pursue his writing career despite the doom closing in on him.

I hate daylight savings time too.

One of my favorite elements of this film is how the sound of the city is constantly in the background. I’m sure this was a way to try and cover for the fact that much of this film is shot on sets that are nowhere near a busy city, but what it ends up doing, is keeping the city as an omnipresent force in every scene. The city is so evil as be unreal but that only adds to the weird gloom and black comedy.

Michael Krueger is also the director of Mind Killer (1987) another film that presents itself a broad comedy but turns out to be a very strange horror movie. Krueger sadly died at 39 after directing only these two films. It is a shame because he shows he know how to create unique films with little resources. Night Vision was a delight and one of my favorite recent discoveries. 

No comments:

Post a Comment