“…there are more holes in it than the stabbed victims.”

I recently discovered that the majority of Americans do not have a freaking clue what “Mischief Night” is.

According to a study done by a PhD student at NC State, the country outside of New Jersey and a small percentage of outlying states have no real name for the night preceding Halloween — a night marked by tossed rolls of toilet paper, cars and homes pelted with eggs, smashed pumpkins, and the occasional flaming bag of dog shit.

Michigan residents bestow the special night with the best title, “Devil’s Night,” but a small portion of the populace refer to it as “Gate Night,” “Goosey Night,” and “Cabbage Night.”

I’m no marketing major, but something tells me a horror film called “Cabbage Night” would not be the biggest draw for genre junkies.

Mischief Night
Directed by
Richard Schenkman
Noell Coet, Daniel Hugh Kelly, Adam C. Edwards
Release Date
30 October 2013
Rob’s Grade: C-

Mischief Night plays it like a number of its predecessors: a young girl left home alone in a big house is tormented by a number of things going bump in the night outside. The difference here is that its lead Emily (played by Noell Coet) is blind.

A childhood tragedy left her without vision, but not the ability to see. There is such a thing, really, sometimes called emotion-induced or trauma-induced blindness. When Emily’s pop (Daniel Hugh Kelly) decides to go on a date for the first time in a long while, Emily assures him that she’ll be just fine alone.

No sooner does dad kiss his little girl goodbye does Emily get terrorized by a mask-wearing, ax-wielding Gorton’s fisherman. The house is egged at first, but he soon makes his way inside, often in the very same room with (and directly in front of) our heroine.

Writer/director Richard Schenkman crafted this one with care, with an above-average cast (Coet is both strong and sassy in the lead) and excellent camerawork. He tosses out a number of red herrings early on (including a completely superfluous opening) designed to keep us wondering about the motives behind the mask.

And if you focus merely on the frights, Mischief Night is a slightly more solid entry, a notch above the norm. Just don’t scratch any further, as there are more holes in it than the stabbed victims. For example, even with Emily being vision impaired for so many years, her house is certainly not blind-friendly. Also, despite her condition, people have no qualms sneaking up and scaring the bejeezus out of the poor girl. The house is also frequently occupied by at least one other person beside Emily and her attacker, yet apparently each room is sound proof, as no one hears or responds to anyone else despite piercing screams, gunshots, or cries for help.

This year’s You’re Next did a lot more with the home-invasion thriller, playing with its conventions and tropes. And its sole novelty — a blind lead — is basically tossed aside by the third act, as Emily somehow develops superhuman sensory perception, allowing her to pinpoint her killer through walls and ceilings.

Like I said, it’s best to not to (pardon the pun) look to deep into Mischief Night, and just let the leads wander through the shadowy rooms eluding certain death.

The term “Mischief Night” will most likely gain no more notoriety in the U.S. as a result of this film, but I can safely say that it does in fact deliver far more thrills than a film called “Cabbage Night” ever could.

Review by Rob Rector, Lead Entertainment Writer

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