WHEN NIGHT FALLS
When Night Falls is one such digital video feature from debuting director Alex Galvin. I must admit to almost having missed When Night Falls in local newspaper listings it came out with zero publicity and one overlooked the relatively nondescript title, which if anything tended to give the impression that it was a sequel to the arthouse success Before Night Falls (2000).
For a debuting director Alex Galvin conducts his camera set-ups with quite a degree of confident assurance. The dialogue tends to a little bland at times, as though the actors were looking around for something a little meatier to say, but they are put through their paces with at least a conviction that allows them to inhabit the parts they have been given. Galvin also spends a good deal of time creating something that todays horror movies have almost forgotten slowly accruing atmosphere. This does cause When Night Falls to tend to the somewhat slow at times. However, once we get to the main horror element, Galvin produces a couple of decent scares the moment where Tania Nolan is jolted by the appearance of a face in the cellar, another where she walks down a hallway and a door silently creeps open behind her.
On the minus side, When Night Falls fails to offer adequate pay off on all the build-up. After creating some effectively accruing atmosphere, Alex Galvin dips too readily into the slasher movie book of tricks and the scenes with Tania Nolan being pursued through the house by the killer just too generic. I really wanted Galvin to push these scenes for seat-edge suspense he had certainly conducted enough build up that his audience (well okay, me, as I was the only person in the screening) were ready for something more. However, it never comes and the biggest disappointment about this is that while When Night Falls is three-quarters build up, when the psycho scenes emerge everything is over and done within a matter of minutes. Had Galvin pushed these scenes for more When Night Falls could have been something to make one take notice certainly his assurance with build-up and the handful of scares we do have show much promise. The only main disappointment is the contrived and far-fetched revelation of the killers identity.
The period setting is conducted with a fair degree of verisimilitude. Alex Galvin shot most of the film around the Wellington region (despite the films stated Manawatu and Wairarapa locations), using a number of historic places to obtain the flavour of the films stated 1932 period setting. My main technical quibble here might be the nurses uniforms, which are all 1970s period with knee-length skirts and short bonnets, rather than 1930s where the skirts were nearly ankle-length and the bonnets had huge great trains that ran halfway down the nurses back. (Hey, I know these things, my ex was a nurse in Wellington). Also the oxygen masks used are the modern lightweight transparent plastic ones rather than the cumbersome rubber efforts used during the period.
Alex Galvin subsequently went onto make the science-fiction film Eternity (2013).