Matt Stuertz’s feature is part cabin-in-the-woods-slasher, part savage-family-terrorises-norms, part occult-dabbling-goes-wrong. It’s got some lofty aims, but ultimately it can’t decide which of the three it wants to be, and ends up being a bit of a mish-mash of its influences.
Probationary mailman, James (Nathan Eswine), travels to a remote country house / cabin, intent on delivering the final letter of his route. Also arriving at the cabin are Ashley (Larissa White) and Lyndsey (Cameisha Cotton), due to rendezvous with their friend Kristy (Dal Nicole), who unbeknownst to them has been killed in mysterious circumstances. They soon encounter the feral inhabitants of the house who have attempted to resurrect something from beyond the grave. They find themselves trapped within the cabin, using copious amounts of their own blood to fend off the evil outside.
The main problem is just how confusing the set up and character motivations are. Tonight She Comes lacks strong exposition and character reasoning right from the start. There is no real back story or information to speak of, and this reviewer is still unclear why Ashley and Lyndsey are at that cabin in the first place, as well as the precise nature of Kristy’s relationship to the family that live there. With meagre lip service to who these people are and what they are doing, they are reduced to basic stereotypes that are hard to care about.
Stylistically, the movie randomly alternates from point-of-view shots, to shaky cam, to conventional third-person viewpoints. Apart from coming across like a strangely giallo version of Peep Show, it offers very little and there’s no consistency to when these differing viewpoints are employed.
Performance wise, there’s a dearth of quality all round, from Cameisha Cotton’s appalling ‘drunk’ acting, to Adam Hartley’s grating presence throughout. But Frankie Ray’s turn as Francis, the patriarch of the family, is bad to the point of being bizarre. He strangely enunciates and overuses his daughter Felicity’s name at every given opportunity, as if it’s the only word he can speak in a southern accent. It’s weird.
The movie is separated into sections via use of time stamps between scenes. But even their use is inconsistent and never presented in the same style more than once. As such, it becomes increasingly distracting. For example, some specify whether the scene takes place at “ten in the morning”, while others simply state the time in odd grammatical styles such as “ten o’six”. They don’t seem to have any particular relevance to the story, other than in the context of linear time, which is something an audience is quite capable of understanding without being spoon-fed.
The soundtrack is a retro synth effort that isn’t bad, but like the rest of the film, feels like it’s riffing on something better. In this instance, Disasterpeace’s superlative score for It Follows casts a long shadow across Wojciech Golczewski’s efforts.
Tonight She Comes is not schlocky enough to be fun and it’s not unnerving enough to be a genuine fright. But on the plus side, the special effects are good, there’s some decent gore and there are a couple of enjoyable set pieces. It also has a mercifully short 84-minute run time.
It feels cruel to knock a low budget, independent horror movie, but the simple fact remains that the world does not need another generic cabin in the woods movie. The incessant re-hashing of a concept done to perfection by Sam Raimi 35 years ago is strange indeed.
Tonight She Comes is incoherent, badly acted, and when you get right down to it, just an entry-level Evil Dead.
THE REEL SCORE: 3/10