Night of the Tommyknockers is an enjoyable ride that doesn’t let up

by Ed Blackadder

Night of the Tommyknockers is an independent movie from the Mahal Empire that has some high highs and interesting, but forgivable, lows. It is a creature feature western that dabbles in horror, but never has any real scares. Nevertheless, once the movie gets going, it doesn’t let up and is a thoroughly enjoyable ride.

Tommyknockers sets up a fun and interesting premise – some miners steal the gold of blood-crazed creatures known as the Tommyknockers. In turn, the monsters go on a Hobbit-esque, Smaug-like rampage killing everyone in their path in an effort to have the gold returned.

While doing some research on the movie, two Indiegogo campaigns reveal that the budget for this movie was at least $270,000. Definitely in the realm of low budget, but not micro-budget. Comparatively, the recent low-budget Terrifier 2 raised about $215,000 on the same platform. Both movies show that these budgets can go a long way.

Tommyknockers makes great use of its budget in regard to the sets and western costumes.  They use legitimate Old West settings and weaponry. Additionally, there’s money well spent on a core cast of recognizable actors including Richard Grieco and Tom Sizemore, who both perform admirably.

However, Tommyknockers is caught between two worlds. The actors and filmmakers seem to be taking the movie serious on all levels, which works most of the time, but the flick is overcome with elements that border on unintentional B-movie tropes – mainly the creatures themselves and the gore effects.

The creatures (which are meant to be represented in masses) appear to be a small group of actors in oddly designed costumes that would be better left in the dark. The choice of keeping the Tommyknockers well-lit is a filmmaking decision that cries B-movie, but never follows through, as all other elements try to work within the realm of serious filmmaking and storytelling.

This movie could have worked far better as an all out creature feature if they had kept the monsters dimly lit and more of a mystery, using the lackluster costumes sparingly.

About an hour into the movie, there is a genuine and really good practical effect, the best in show. Without giving a significant spoiler, a throat slash that bleeds and squirts in all the right ways for a horror movie.

There isn’t really a single star of the movie, but rather an ensemble of known faces, seasoned low-budget actors, and plenty of serviceable newcomers, all of whom give it their all and make for an enjoyable watch.

Ed’s Grade: B