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Frightfest 2017 Review: 3rd Night

3rd Night immediately gets my hackles up because the title should be Third Night. Bad, bad grammar. How and ever, the debut feature from British-born, Australia-based writer-director Adam Gravely has one foot in real life (it was inspired by stalker-esque events that occurred in leafy New York state) and the other in the kind of Aussie shocker Wolf Creek made so popular.

Our heroes are Meagan and Jonathan Reid (played by Aussie Jesse Mc Ginn and Brit Robert Hartburn respectively), a young married couple who have just purchased a property on an isolated farm in the Australian countryside. As the movie begins, she’s just lost her cat and, as the minutes tick by, the fun comes from wondering where and when the bloody thing is going to turn up.

The two soon find themselves menaced by badly-written poems left on the doorstep, so Meagan spends much of her time staring out the window into the distance and wondering if she can actually see someone out there. In fact, there is somebody out there, a rough-looking fellow and his teenage companion, who couldn’t possibly be the ones responsible…right?

3rd Night orchard

Gravely knows what he’s doing with 3rd Night, for the most part. His camera hovers constantly, giving the impression that the central couple are always being watched. The script sees Jonathan taking how isolated they are for granted, while Meagan immediately sees the inherent danger in being so far from help. Thus Gravely has made a home invasion movie where the house isn’t really invaded.

There are missteps, particularly in showing one character wanking (wouldn’t some nice, squelchy sound effects have done the job better?) and the disembodied children’s laughter that echoes throughout is a bit cliche. Likewise, it’s difficult to keep track of the timeline, even with the (wholly unnecessary) title cards alerting us to which day it is.

There’s a great sense of creeping dread throughout, like the two of them are sitting ducks just waiting to be picked off. And the whole thing feels like it’s building to something big. When the reveal finally does come, it’s kind of a letdown. Not because it doesn’t make sense thematically, but because it’s just a bit meh. There’s not much to it.

3rd Night knifeIt’s a real shame, because for the most part 3rd Night is a decent little thriller that never betrays its low budget limitations. Mc Ginn and Hartburn are strong leads and the shooting style, which forces us almost constantly to focus on the house’s big, open windows is inspired. Gravely does so much with so little that it’s hard not to root for him to do a bit better.

As it stands, 3rd Night ends rather abruptly, followed closely with a by-the-numbers jump scare that betrays every quiet, clever moment that’s come before. It doesn’t get nearly nasty enough as it needs to, either. Gravely is surely one to watch on this evidence, however, even if his debut suggests he hasn’t quite got a grasp of his own mythos just yet.

Director(s): Adam Gravely
Writer(s): Adam Gravely
Stars: Jesse McGinn, Robert Blackburn, Bruce Denny, Conor Gosatti
Release: TBC
Studio/ Production Co: 2D Films
Language: English
Length: 72 minutes
Sub-Genre: Home invasion

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Written by Joey Keogh
Slasher fanatic Joey Keogh has been writing since she could hold a pen, and watching horror movies even longer. Aside from making a little home for herself at Wicked Horror, Joey also writes for Birth.Movies.Death, The List, and Vague Visages among others. Her actual home boasts Halloween decorations all year round. Hello to Jason Isaacs.
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