Starring: Jennifer June Ross, Ben Huber and Boomie Aglietti
Review Written By: Michael Dalton
Whilst very much an independent production, the plot of Dick Night is one that I could see famous comedians such as Seth Rogen and/or Kristen Wiig (Essentially the Apatow brigade) doing. It’s a sex comedy mixed with a dash of horror that doesn’t get too raunchy or gory, contains an original, witty voice, is very character driven and has aspirations to admire, even if it doesn’t quite reach all of its targets.
For a low budget film, and a low budget “horror-comedy” at that, the acting is of a very high standard. Jennifer June Ross is particularly impressive in the lead role and as the film is her character’s story, she very much carries the movie. Ben Huber is also very funny in his role as Dr. Lewis and he avoids making the character too annoying or unbelievable, something that could have easily happened in less assured hands. Boomie Aglietti is equally effective in the role of Kyle, however his character is perhaps the most clichéd and familiar of the bunch, although additionally the one that audience members may be able to relate to the most.
While the actors all perform their roles to good effect, they are aided by what is a very original and witty screenplay that gives them all plenty to work with. Every actor in the film is gifted at least one scene by writer/director Andy Viner where they are able to showcase their talents. The script has an admirable focus on character which I appreciated and contains many amusing lines and ideas. While much of the dialogue and situations are unbelievable, the filmmakers and actors are able to keep the dialogue, situations and characters believable. While that seems like a nonsensical contradiction, it is essentially complimenting the fact that while the film very much takes place in this heightened universe, it is never alienating or frustratingly so.
However while the film is unique, amusing and well written and acted, it does have its problems. The film’s finest moments are when the horror and the comedy are combined. The finest example of this is the film’s opening where we are thrown into the film in a very horrific manner only to learn the amusing true circumstance behind the situation. I personally would have liked to have seen more of these moments as I felt this film for the majority of its running time was either a comedy, or a horror, not a comedy/horror. In introducing the film having these two elements at the beginning and then foregoing one of those elements until the last twenty minutes, I spent the majority of the running time waiting for that element to be re-introduced and integrated into the narrative, becoming restless with what I was seeing due to my desire and intrigue regarding what I wasn’t seeing.
It is very much the case that this is a problem only I will have, as noted earlier the acting and dialogue is good enough that it is possible to enjoy the film when it is purely being a character driven comedy. If the film had just been a character comedy and not hinted at and teased a different dimension at the beginning, I would have found the majority of this film more compelling. However when there is something else lurking, it is hard to not find the extended periods of just character comedy rather slight, tensionless and not cinematic. When the ‘horror’ is introduced it is clear that budgetary constraints disallow a justification of the material and a fulfillment of its potential. If you go into Dick Night looking for a horror you will be disappointed, if you go in looking for a comedy/horror you will be entertained, engaged and intrigued however perhaps ultimately disappointed by the brevity of the combination. However if you go into Dick Night expecting a witty, interesting and original film that promises great things to come for all involved and has great moments and ideas within it, then you’re in luck…should you have such specific desires and expectations.
Ultimately Dick Night is unlike any film I have seen this year and that’s to be admired. It is a film that is very much focused on character and that is to be admired. The last line in particular is perfect and reinforces this point, ending the film on a crucially character focused high. It is also a film that has ambitions I can relate to and has laughs. Ultimately the film didn’t quite go all the way for me personally, due to my desire to see a more consistent integration of the comedy and the horror and a handling of the horror that was as promising and accomplished as the handling of the comedy and the characters.
On the basis of this film’s ambitions, originality, ideas and wit, I am looking forward to seeing what Andy Viner does next.
By Movie Parliament Prime Minister,
Check out how you can see Dick Night by visiting the official site here.
Interview with "Dick Night" Writer/Director, Andy Viner
Where did the idea for Dick Night come from? Did it arrive relatively fully formed, or was it the culmination and/or combination of a series of separate ideas?
Came about because of a location. I had a house in the middle of the Arizona desert I knew I could shoot at and dreamt up some scenarios that could take place out there.
How long did it take you to write the script for Dick Night and what advice would you give to aspiring screenwriters?
The general idea of shooting at this particular house and the story of a heart broken girl planning to have a one night stand and ending up with too many suitors and then veering into horror territory was developed as a basic 3-5 page treatment over a couple months. When it came to actually writing the script that was born out of starting the casting process and needing scenes for the actors to audition with and from there it was finish the rest of the script so we can show the actors a full movie. Sometimes it helps to be put under a harsh deadline.
Were there any particular films which informed/inspired the tone, look and story of Dick Night?
The initial inspiration really came from movies that had a distinct shift in tone like "From Dusk Till Dawn", "Something Wild" and "Macon County Line". From there the comedy stuff takes it's inspiration from relationship comedies, old hollywood screwball to woody allen and then the horror section certainly owes something to the French film "Them".
Where did the title Dick Night come from?
The movie was untitled during production so the cast and crew would joke around with various titles for the movie. Dick Night stuck.
Was it difficult to find funding for the film and how did you go about finding actors and casting?
It was made for only $25,000 - finding the money was not difficult in this case. Casting was both the traditional route of putting out an audition notice and bringing in people we had worked with before.
What were the biggest challenges you faced while shooting Dick Night?
Flora and fauna.
Were there any significant changes to the film from original script to what was shot?
Cut a couple of scenes in the middle, added a scene towards the end.
What advice would you give to aspiring directors?
Find other people who like to make movies. Make some stuff with them.
Were there any opinions, beliefs or preconceptions you had about filmmaking and/or the film industry that have been shattered/debunked by this experience?
There's more to a typical indie film's life than the 2 or 3 big American Film Festivals.
Was the distribution of the film what you had hoped for and was it difficult to get?
The Film Buff distribution deal is pretty much exactly what we hoped to get. Outside of the vary rare chance the movie would end up in theaters, getting a digital distribution deal allowed us to still get the movie to a very wide audience.
What would you say are the lessons you learnt from Dick Night and what lessons would you like the audience to learn?
Don't over think.
What have you got planned next?
Make another movie.
And some general questions...
If you have a favourite film, what is it?
His Girl Friday
Who is your favourite director and/or which director has inspired you the most?
Can't narrow that down to one - Renoir, Preston Sturges, Howard Hawks, Woody Allen, Coen Brothers
What is your favourite film of 2012 so far?