Surprisingly good horror.
Travis Baker’s new horror Mischief Night may begin as your typical Halloween slasher, but it doesn’t take long before it heads in an interesting direction, leading it away from seen-it-all-before territory. It does get off to a shaky start, but all that’s uneven about this part of the film, is smoothed out by Baker, leaving the last two acts pretty engrossing. Not to be confused with Richard Schenkman’s Mischief Night which came out just last year, first-time writer-director Travis Baker has put together a character-driven horror that may be a bit light on blood and guts–thanks to a low body count–but for those of you who want something a little bit different, this is the ideal movie.
Babysitter Kaylie (Brooke Anne Smith) is alone in the house with her charge the night before Halloween. Other than a bit of hassle from local kids everything’s fine, until a masked man breaks into the house intent on murdering her, but it soon turns out Kaylie and the man are attracted to one another, making things complicated.
Although Malcolm McDowell is in Mischief Night his part as Mr. Smiles could have been played by anyone, as he’s not in it for long with only two scenes. Brooke Anne Smith was particularly good as Kaylie, a teenage girl who self harms. Near the start of Mischief Night just after Mr. Smiles talks to Kaylie, she closes the door on him then deliberately scratches her arm drawing blood. This is the first indication that Kaylie may have emotional problems and Smith does a very good job of bringing this out in her character.
Marc Valera’s character, listed as ‘The Man,’ starts off as your stereotypical masked killer, but it’s not long before this all changes. I enjoyed watching his confusion at the attraction he was feeling for his victim, and how it threw off-balance, leaving him unsure at what he’s supposed to do. Valera and Smith’s chemistry was almost hypnotic, and during the middle act, where Kaylie and The Man are trying to work out where they stand, was easily my favorite part of the film, which is unusual for a horror.
What made Mischief Night interesting were the characters from Travis Baker’s pen, and all this managed without gallons of blood being tossed about. Baker provides clues throughout the film and they all fall into place by the end. I’m not sure Baker needed to outline them for us at the end, but I understand why he would do it in the first place. Some watching Mischief Night will be more observant than others and unfortunately may need to be spoon fed. I got the feeling Baker is a James Wan fan and felt a bit of Saw‘s influence in Mischief Night. It’s as well the film does them justice.
Review by Nav Qateel