Gone In The Night


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Gone In The Night
"The odd structure doesn’t always serve the film well, but Ryder is impressive, disappearing into her character in a way she has rarely managed to do elsewhere."

Gone In The Night has one of those tastefully protracted opening sequences which work beautifully in the likes of Get Out, in which a couple drive down a long tree-lined road towards an incident which we, the viewers, know will change their lives. The petty arguments which result in raised eyebrows or smiles, the conversational shorthand, the way they manage their physical closeness in that small space all tell us something about their relationship and make it feel real. The relationship, as much as the people themselves, is a central character in the film.

It’s a relationship with is about to be dramatically disrupted. When Kath (Winona Ryder) and Max (John Gallagher Jr) arrive at their destination, a remote cabin in the woods, they find that there’s another couple already there. It appears that the place has been double booked. Kath is tired after the long drive. Max argues with Al (Owen Teague), the guy who answered the door, but Al’s partner Greta (Brianne Tju) is welcoming and invites them to stay for one night so that they can recover before hitting the road again. Once things are settled, though Al remains sulky, they get along fairly well, and laugh as the play a risqué board game together. Kath goes to bed early. In the morning, she finds Al sobbing alone in the woods. To her astonishment, he tells her that Max and Greta have run off together.

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Kath’s confusion is something which any viewer who has had a relationship end abruptly will relate to. She knows that things weren’t perfect between her and Max, but would never have seen this coming. Friends reassure her that she doesn’t need a man like that in her life anyway, and she gradually gets back to normal, working in a plant store. Something continues to nag at her, however. She needs to speak to Max, and that’s why she decides to contact the owner of the cabin and try to persuade him to give her Greta’s address. At this point the structure of the film changes and we begin to see scenes depicting Max’s activities a few months previously, as we follow Kath on a quest to uncover a truth which proves to be much darker abnd more complicated than anything she expected.

This odd structure doesn’t always serve the film well, but Ryder is impressive, disappearing into her character in a way she has rarely managed to do elsewhere. The role gives her a lot to work with. Kath has a distinctive kind of chemistry with Max, who is quite a bit younger and used to be a student on her horticulture course, feeling protective towards him and a little indulgent, realising that he hasn’t really got life figured out yet. Over time, a very different kind of romantic interest develops between her and the cabin owner (Dermot Mulroney), who is older and much more in control, though not without his own set of problems. In the course of this shift, we see her starting to recognise herself as an older adult and deal with the concerns that ageing brings.

With good performances from Mulroney and Teague as well, the film is at its strongest when allowing its actors room to do their thing, and the final act, when it once again shifts gear, delivers for thriller fans but compromises on character. From a scientific perspective, it’s unconvincing, and it also plays into a problematic disability trope, but these things could be forgiven if the interactions it presented were more consistent. Despite its flaws, however, there’s a good deal about it that’s interesting, and as a first film, it holds some promise for co-writer/director Eli Horowitz. As a story about a woman growing older and figuring out what she really wants in life, it’s an effective piece of work.

Reviewed on: 11 Jul 2022
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Gone In The Night packshot
When Kath and her boyfriend arrive at a remote cabin in the redwoods, they find a mysterious younger couple already there. Her boyfriend disappears with the young woman, and Kath becomes obsessed with finding an explanation.

Director: Eli Horowitz

Writer: Matthew Derby, Eli Horowitz

Starring: Winona Ryder, John Gallagher Jr, Dermot Mulroney, Brianne Tju, Owen Teague

Year: 2022

Runtime: 90 minutes

Country: US


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