Every once in a while you run into a film that has an amazing cold opening, only to have the rest of the film fall to pieces. Ghost Ship is the first film that springs to mind, featuring an amazing sequence of a horrible accident slicing an entire ship worth of people to pieces. Other films with amazing openings are the four Scream films, but at least the rest of those films’ runtimes are up to par with their openings. Now, we come to Mischief Night (on DVD December 17) where once again, a fun opening could have been a great short film, only to find itself attached to a mediocre one post-title card. Let’s just say there’s one home invasion film to see this year, and it’s You’re Next.
On the night of October 30th, Will (Charlie O’Connell) and Kim (Erica Leerhsen) are enjoying a romantic night of adultery when it’s rudely interrupted by every slasher cliché in the book. After the opening 10 minutes we get to the film’s main plot involving Emily (Noell Coet), who suffers from psychosomatic blindness after a car accident when she was nine that killed her mother. Now, she’s just moved into a new home and doesn’t know her way around the house, but that doesn’t stop her father David (Daniel Hugh Kelly) from leaving her alone on Mischief Night to go on a date. Soon enough, a masked and hooded stalker begins terrorizing Emily, and not even the help of her boyfriend Jimmy (Ian Bamberg) or aunt Lauren (Stephanie Erb) can help her.
Mischief Night is another well-received film festival find making its way to home video with a current 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Don’t let the five reviews fool you; this is not a triumphant genre film by any means. For about an hour, Coet makes for a likeable lead, and the house seems to pose just as big a threat as the lurking killer; however, the script takes a turn for the worst a la The Purge and it starts to get dumber with each passing minute.
Anyone can guess when poor Emily’s sight will return, and sometimes the killer takes on a goofy prance as he stalks Emily through the house. One huge inconsistency is that in an early scene, Emily knows Jimmy is climbing in through her bedroom window because she says she can smell him, yet she walks right by the hooded stalker multiple times never noticing he’s there. This must be the best smelling killer ever. Things like this happen at a rapid pace throughout the final 30 minutes.
On the plus side, director/co-writer Richard Schenkman makes the most of his budget, and the slick production, Anastasia Devana’s score, and Richard J. Vialet’s cinematography do heighten the proceedings a little, but even at a scant 86 minutes, the opening sequence is the best part of it all. The only special feature is an 11-minute “Behind the Scenes” featuring interviews with the cast and crew, and lots of spoilers. The main menu is pre-empted with trailers for Lovely Molly, Do Not Disturb, All Hallow’s Eve, and Sanitarium. In the end, Mischief Night is just another run-of-the-mill direct-to-video horror release you’ll soon find in the bargain bin.