Against the Night
Theatrical Release: Sept 15 2017(select cities)
Official Website: www.againstthenight.com
Against the Night is a witty retelling of the “thinning of the herd” tale. When a group of young filmmakers find themselves locked in an abandoned prison, it may not be the creature hiding in the shadows that is the predominant threat, but the sadistic personalities amongst themselves. Suspicion and gothic architecture haunt the frames of a contemporary myth that is reminiscent of a Twilight Zone morality story holding you at gunpoint. This recent effort from director Brian Cavallaro is something you’ll want to put on your fall schedule. Against the Night proves to touch on some essential horror components in a fresh youthful manner. Elements like comedic relief, creepy eccentric nerd, and a visually disturbing setting culminate in a totally unexpected take on the pre-credits reveal. The location manages to drag itself center stage incessantly. As if the institution has a mind of it’s own. Understanding that the film was shot at the Holmesburg Prison in Philadelphia I asked Brian
CCH: how much of that was cinematography? And how much was honestly the location?
Cavallaro: The location 100% dictated how the film was shot. You couldn’t ask for a better location — a lot of the cast and crew were scared just being there, so that’s a pretty good start. There are no working lights in Holmesburg so even on early scouts we had to use flashlights to look around. Once you see the beams of lights moving across the walls and down the corridors – it becomes clear that there’s no better way to light it.
The Film is punctuated by scenes with Frank Whaley (Red Dragon) as Detective Ramsey. His is a familiar face that gives the film’s trailer an undeniable integrity. After viewing it for the first time we reached out to the director. It was interesting to learn that Brian had produced a short film starring Ethan Embry, whose performance in the Devil’s Candy had recently garnered unanimous approval amongst the CCH staff. Not that he needed our approval, but rest assured this acquaintanceship earned Brian a short-cut to CCH respect. Brian’s television and film credits are abundant, however this seems to be a freshman entry in the world of thrillers.
CCH: have you always wanted to do a scary movie? Or do you believe that every director’s portfolio begins with a horror film?
Cavallaro: I’m definitely intrigued by directors that are able to walk the line, from Friedkin, to Kubrick, and even Scorsese. It’s also interesting to watch directors like Jon Watts and Adam Wingard move from low budget thrillers to big studio movies. The one thing they all had in common were stories that they believed in and I think that shows. This movie was something I wanted to see, so that was a good place to start.
The cast is rounded out by relatively fresh faces from the NYC and Philadelphia region. Stand out performances include Luke Persiani as Hank the ambitious auteur, and Josh Cahn as Dan. Their characters draw attention every time the camera lands on them. Our protagonist Rachel (Hannah Kleeman) compels the audience to stay invested until the bitter end. This was an eclectic group of actors, all very skilled at the craft.
CCH: Having read the cast history… was this more of a repertoire cast for you? or was it a traditional audition process?
Cavallaro: I would say the casting process was anything but traditional. I’m based in Los Angeles and we sent out a casting notice looking for actors in Philadelphia. I spent the next couple of months doing Skype interviews with actors until we were able to get to our final ten. The experience level was all over the place, but the talent was very consistent. I’m of course very excited someone like Hannah who got to work with Frank Whaley in her first feature. Certainly some characters have more screen time than others, but I really did feel like an ensemble movie to me.
Unsettling and fast paced attacks will dizzy the audience, however the film utilizes the time between these rhythmic fits of violence to manipulate the viewer. No one is safe, when the “stick together” mentality is part of the problem. This film is in the best sense of the word a “popcorn muncher”, the kind of movie that weekend dates were made for. So put the armrest up, cuddle in close, and hold on tight. I cannot imagine anyone walking away disappointed from Against the Night.
CCH: Thank you Brian, for the special screening and taking the time to speak with us.
Cavallaro: Thank you for taking the time to watch the movie and write about it! Movies like this will really thrive on word of mouth and getting noticed by someone like you and CCH goes a long way! Can’t thank you enough!
Look for Against the Night in select cities September 15th. For more information on the film please refer to the social media accounts at Facebook.com/againstthenightfilm or Twitter.com/ATNmovie. We hope to catch up with Brian Cavallaro closer to the VOD release. Keep an eye out for our conversation with him.
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