Cinemark Theaters and The Asylum have joined forces to present THURSDAY NIGHTS AT THE ASYLUM in theaters across the country, bringing underground and indie horror, thriller, sci-fi, and cult cinema to the masses. If you’re like me, you probably didn’t know this was happening. But that’s why we’re here; to spread the gospel.
This week marks the second week of the series, with writer/director Matt Stuertz’s bizarre and frustrating TONIGHT SHE COMES. And no, it really doesn’t have much to do with the Cars song. I don’t think. Dammit, Stuertz. Back in a minute… Okay. Having just watched the video for The Cars’ song, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t an inspiration. But dammit, I just don’t know anymore.
I don’t think I’ve ever had such a dramatic change of heart halfway through a film as I had with TONIGHT SHE COMES. At least not in a positive way. Because I’m gonna be honest here. The first forty-ish minutes of this film were killing me. After an intriguing and captivating opening scene where a pregnant woman runs through the woods and then violently stabs herself in her swollen belly over and over again, we then get forty minutes of horrible people doing horrible things in horribly written and acted ways.
We’ve got James (Nathan Eswine), the part-time hipster stoner mailman (what the hell?) and his friend (?) Pete (Adam Hartley), the hipster stoner chronic masturbator on a collision course with drunk-ass and on-the-rag Ashley (Larissa White) and drunk-ass and no-other-real-character-traits Lyndsey (Cameisha Cotton). The nodal point around which they all circle is Kristy (Dal Nicole), who has mysteriously gone missing — not that anybody really notices.
Oh yeah. She’s the girl stabbing herself in the opening moments of the film.
After dropping Pete off to shit in the woods, James ends up at Christy’s family’s cabin trying to deliver a letter. When no one answers the door, he decides to take a nap in the family hammock… because he’s the BEST POSTMAN EVER. Meanwhile, Ashley and Lyndsey show up extremely drunk and proceed to get even drunker. Oh yeah, and somewhere in there, Pete masturbates (for the second time in the film) watching the girls frolic on the banks of the lake.
Seriously, by this point I wanted everyone in the film to die horrible deaths. It’s all so over-the-top that I understand that it’s intended to be comedic, but it just didn’t connect with me. I appreciate it, but didn’t enjoy it.
So that contributed to how freaking happy I was with what happens next.
Because after about the forty-three-minute mark, this film shifts gears and turns into something that boggles the mind. We’ve got backwoods black magic, real blood effects (no CG), horrific gore, psychological trauma, and some of the grossest gross-outs I’ve seen in a while.
If you’re a gore fan, you’re in for a treat. Not just with the violent deaths that are all practical effects and look amazing, but there’s a closing scene that is going to make you shit yourself, squeal, and then shit yourself again.
Believe me when I tell you, FIGHT THE URGE TO TURN THIS OFF AND WALK AWAY. As difficult as the first half of this movie was for me to get through, the back half is amazing. It’s so amazing; it made me reevaluate my hostility for the front half. Clearly Stuertz did this on purpose. He purposefully make these characters so awful we’ll beg to see them die.
I can tell you is that once the story actually kicks into gear and we meet Francis (Frankie Ray), Philip (Brock Russell) – they really should have spelled that Fillip – and Felicity (Jenna McDonald), we’re in a whole new world of extreme madness, old-school satanism, and gore. A whole new world that I loved without restraint. Whenever you can pull off a gore effect that makes me shout in glee, you’re doing it right.
And TONIGHT SHE COMES eventually does it so, so right.
Kudos to Jenna McDonald and Dal Nicole for fantastic performances both clothed (McDonald) and totally nude (Nicole). They make this film work. McDonald hits her backwoods accent perfectly and finds a way to balance concern with menace that was exactly what the film needed. She’s got both the heart and the rage to make Felicity a horror-hero. And Nicole was brave as hell, playing a demonic monster totally nude and covered in blood in what had to be freezing night shoots. And then she still nails being a psychotic monster that can’t be stopped.
Cinematography on a budget is all about finding the right shot. Limited funds can hurt a film, but a good cinematographer can make no cash look amazing and Chris Benson does just that. After a shaky start, TONIGHT SHE COMES settles into a nice low-budget feel with big-budget aspirations, and by the time we get to the gory finale, this film looks fantastic. And I can’t say enough good things about the sound design and music by composer Wojciech Golczewski, who was also responsible for a few other quality indie horror films that I loved, Late Phases, We Are Still Here, and the brilliant Beyond the Gates. Obey when that initial title card comes up telling you to turn up the volume.
If anyone ever tells you that modern horror is dead or boring, tell them they need to stop watching corporate horror and get themselves dirty in the glorious muck that is contemporary indie horror.
Here’s where you can see it tonight:
THEATER LISTINGS: THURSDAY, OCTOBER 5 (ONE NIGHT ONLY!)
Movies 16 + XD (Lubbock, TX)
Hollywood 17 (Mcallen, TX)
College Station + XD (College Station, TX)
Tinseltown 17 (Erie, PA)
Cinemark Movies 16 + XD (Somerdale, NJ)
Movies 14 (Mishawaka, IN)
Cinemark Tinseltown 17 + XD (Grapevine, TX)
Tinseltown 20 + XD (El Paso, TX)
Tinseltown 20 + XD (Pflugerville, TX)
Cinemark Tinseltown + XD (Louisville, KY)
Tinseltown 14 (Oak Ridge, TN)
Tinseltown 14 (Pueblo, CO)
Legacy 24 + XD (Plano, TX)
Cinemark Tinseltown 20 + XD (Oklahoma City, OK)
Cinemark Tinseltown 20 + XD (Merriam, KS)
Tinseltown 20 + XD (Jacksonville, FL)
Tinseltown 17 (Fayetteville, GA)
Cinemark 17 + IMAX (Tulsa, OK)
Cinemark 19 + XD (Katy, TX)
Tinseltown 14 (Bristol, VA)
Moosic 20 + XD (Moosic, PA)
Valley View 24 + XD (Valley View, OH)
Cinemark Orlando + XD (Orlando, FL)
Cinemark 24 + XD (West Jordan, UT)
Cinemark 18 + XD (Webster, TX)
Carefree Circle 16 + IMAX (Colorado Springs, CO)
Cinemark 16 (Fort Collins, CO)
Cinemark 15 + XD (Hadley, MA)
Cinemark 14 @ The Pike + XD (Long Beach, CA)
Cinemark 14 + XD (Lake Charles, LA)
Pittsburgh Mills Mall 18 + IMAX (Tarentum, PA)
Cinemark 16 (Mesa, AZ)
Cinemark Perkins Rowe + XD (Baton Rouge, LA)
Cinemark Fayette Mall 16 + XD (Lexington, KY)
Mountain View Cinema 16 (Mountain View, CA)
Albuquerque Rio 24 + XD (Albuquerque, NM)
Orange Stadium Promenade 25 + XD (Orange, CA)
Century Parklane (Reno, NV)
Portland Eastport Plaza (Portland, OR)
Anchorage 16 + XD (Anchorage, AK)
Century El Con + XD (Tucson, AZ)
Evanston 18 + XD (Evanston, IL)
Las Vegas Samstown 18 (Las Vegas, NV)
Century Walnut Creek 14 + XD (Walnut Creek, CA)
Sacramento Greenback 16 + XD (Sacramento, CA)
San Jose Oakridge 20 + XD (San Jose, CA)
Century 16 Bel Mar + XD (Lakewood, CO)
Des Moines Jordan Creek + XD (West Des Moines, IA)
Huntington Beach Bella Terra 20 + XD (Huntington Beach, CA)
Las Vegas Santa Fe Station 16 + XD (Las Vegas, NV)
Sandy Union Heights 16 (Sandy, UT)
Century 16 (Boulder, CO)
Century Federal Way + XD (Federal Way, WA)
Century River Park 16 + XD (10/26) (Oxnard, CA)
Cinemark Robinson Township + XD (Robinson Township, PA)
Cinemark 14 (5/8) (Joliet, IL)
Cinemark 12 (6/24) (Barboursville, WV)
Paradise 24 + XD (Davie, FL)
Egyptian 24 + XD (Hanover, MD)
Cinemark Farmington + XD (Farmington, UT)
Christiana + XD (Newark, DE)
Cinemark Oakley Station + XD (Cincinnati, OH)
Cinemark North Hills + XD (Pittsburgh, PA)
Colonel Glenn 18 + XD (Little Rock, AR)
Cinemark 18 and XD (Los Angeles, CA)
Buckland Hills 18 IMAX (Manchester, CT)
Preston Crossings 16 (Louisville, KY)
Flint West 14 (Flint, MI)
Ann Arbor 20 IMAX (Ypsilanti, MI)
Hazlet 12 (Hazlet, NJ)
Dayton South 16 + XD (West Carrollton, OH)
Milford 16 (Milford, OH)
Fallen Timbers 14 + XD (Maumee, OH)
Franklin Park 16 + XD (Toledo, OH)
Northeast Mall 18 + XD (Hurst, TX)
Cuyahoga Falls + XD (Cuyahoga Falls, OH)