Niki Koss, a Forbes 30 Under 30 actress known for her co-starring role in Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse, is treading a new path featuring a sole female lead. Her film, Night Night, released on November 16, and for those considering a view, be sure to purchase instead of rent. You’ll need to watch it a few times to appreciate it fully.
After waking up from a terrible car accident, April Davis (Brenna D’Amico) has to find a way to work through and recover from its lasting effects. Akin to psycho-superstars like Paranormal Activity or Get Out, the film checks all the boxes of its subgenre by hitting notes of pervasiveness, pressure, and a cyclical loss of control. A fervent performance from Taylor Gray (as April’s brother, Jax) fluidly fills the gaps in between. His drug reliance and lack of accountability gave me moments of movie-night light-heartedness almost as often as grotesque indifference. I interpreted the decision to cast Tony Todd—from Candyman—as an homage to ’90s slasher horror, which really rounds out during the final scene.
What’s especially exciting about Night Night is the events that ensue after April’s boyfriend, Robert (Nick Marini), abruptly moves in as a caregiver. April ends up seeing self-proclaimed “hallucinations” from mixing wine with pain pills, but of course, her car accident isn’t top of mind for most others. Koss, on brand with her record of participating in movies with social purpose, makes a clear declaration here for a more reactive support system. Specifically addressing gender, the sole female lead is progressively barricaded in masculine self-interest.
On a more subtle end, the film rests on a powdery color palette and a decidedly newwave ’50s aesthetic, which functions well with the trending “smartphone drama” movie trope. Koss’ color choices are purist and convey the separate and consistent responsibilities of the individual experience. I found blues, pinks, reds, and yellows to all enjoy a silent anthem, even to the point where they’re claimed by certain protagonists. Though obvious at times (specifically Taylor’s “bathroom breakdown” scene), the color choice gives way to fun conversations about an abstract narrative.
“Night Night is exactly psychological. [MILD SPOILER] Koss keeps you centered on the procedural aspects of vehicular manslaughter while teasing the idea of something abnormal. [END SPOILER] D’Amico does an excellent service to the film by stressing a mundane, real, and often lonely atmosphere that comes with trauma recovery as a woman. Even more so, Night Night is a great statement piece because it takes the traditional recipe of things that go bump into the night and merges it with modernized and dangerous superficialities of a regular lifestyle. The scariest part about Night Night is the fact that most people know the feeling.
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Keenan Ocansey is the Content and Community Coordinator, and sometimes writer, for CSQ.com.