Director/Screenplay – S.J. Evans, Producers – S.J. Evans & Sousila Pillay, Photography – Huw Talfryn Walters, Music – Robin Scott-Fleming, Visual Effects – Martin Lejeune. Production Company – Dark Art Films Ltd./Pillay Evans Productions.
Tony Todd (Marc Ruber), Gary Mavers (Detective Jenkins), Joseph Millson (Detective Anderson), Cicley Tennant (Amanda Helms), Simone Kaye (Anne-Marie Hardy), Rachel LittleMac (Sheila Cage), Stuart Boother (Jason Copeland), Paul Fox (Paul Moore), Simon Bamford (Gary Butterball)
Police turn up to investigate after five bodies are found slaughtered at Jericho Manor. Detectives bring the expatriate American caretaker Marc Ruber in and question him over what happened but he insists that the murders were caused by the ghosts that inhabit the house. The police find that the dead were the film crew from the ghost hunter web series Seeing is Believing. Detective Jenkins sits down to watch the tapes they recorded. These show how the group arrived and began attempting to contact the ghosts in the house. At the same time, a masked killer began attacking and killing the group.
Dead of the Nite was a directorial debut for British filmmaker S.J. Evans who had previously made a handful of short films and the full-length documentary Tattoos: A Scarred History (2009).
Dead of the Nite takes up the theme of the crew of a ghostbusters tv show investigating a haunted house, which has been repeated ad nauseum in the last few years. In the majority of cases, this has simply served as the basis for a Found Footage ghost story – see the likes of Haunted Changi (2010), Grave Encounters (2011), Greystone Park (2012). The expectation here is that Dead of the Nite is going to be exactly the same, although this doesn’t turn out to be the case – the film is not Found Footage and uses regular dramatic framing, albeit liberally mixed with camera-held photography. The rest of the camerawork comes in a distracting mix of formats – a reasonable amount of the film that takes place in infra-red camerawork, even turning unsqueezed anamorphic in a couple of scenes.
S.J. Evans does nothing exceptional with the film. The surprise that becomes apparent about halfway through is that it is not even a haunted house film as everything about the set-up leads us to expect. Rather what becomes apparent is that Dead of the Nite is a mundane piece about the ghostbusting team being slaughtered by a masked killer making their way through the house (and sometimes picking up a camera to film). The eventual revelation of the killer’s identity comes with a reasonable surprise.
This is also a film where S.J. Evans demonstrates he is a genre fan. He has brought Tony Todd, best known as the title role in Candyman (1992) and sequels plus a number of other horror roles, to England for a handful of scenes mostly at the start where Todd plays a groundsman who is questioned by the police about his involvement. Todd is clearly playing into his latter day role as horror icon and hams it up, giving the part the full force of his mellifluous basso voice. Evans also casts Simon Bamford, a Clive Barker regular, best known as the Cenobite nicknamed Butterball in Hellraiser (1987), in a small role as one of the detectives at the station who is named Butterball on the credits.
Full film available here