Friday 5 May 2023

The Nightgown (2023) - Horror Film Review

The Nightgown
is the latest film from Jared Masters (Quartz Vein, Ballet of Blood), one that was co-written along with Randy Master. This supernatural horror has all the trappings that the director is known for, with his signature grindhouse style adding a lot to this horror film throwback.

In 1976, three girls fed up with the harsh conditions of the convent school they attend, decide to bunk off. They have heard rumours that the owner of the school, Father Munhauser (Randy Masters) once accidentally killed a girl during a botched exorcism, and with the woodland cabin that occured at being nearby, they decide to go investigate. Once at the cabin they begin to experience supernatural phenomenon, seeming to revolve specifically around the ghost of a girl named Mary (Hannah Dunsley-Ricehester). They decide that they are going to help her spirit, by finding evidence about what happened to her, with the hope that this will give her peace.

I enjoyed this horror more than I expected to, and was impressed with how much stuff is stuffed into the near one hour twenty runtime. This essentially tells two different stories, the girls exploring the cabin and witnessing various scary things, mixed in with a sizeable chunk that serves as a flashback showing what happened at the place. With nightmare sequences that delve into arthouse territory, and various weird scenes, it is never clear exactly what is behind everything. With the antagonist priest character introduced in the prologue I expected he would be in this a lot, mainly however it was just the flashback scenes he appears in. For the most part it is the three protagonists, Jodi (Kate Ly Johnston), Lori (Baracha), and Peg (Elizabeth Rath) getting into various situations revolving around the pretty demonic acting ghosts. This gave a most welcome vibe of The Evil Dead, with the ghosts able to affect the world around them and cause physical harm to the girls. Special mention goes to James F. Gregory who plays the slimy groundskeeper Nestor, he was a highlight of the movie and was never overused.

With the grindhouse feel of the film I wasn't expecting great special effects, or at least I mean I wasn't expecting great looking special effects. Gun fire is very artificial, as are trauma effects, but this is all very purposeful, with that aspect lent into rather than intended to look realistic. Make-up effects for the ghosts was also mostly artificial looking, but again it worked very well with the vibe. There was a varied amount of horror here, from a floating nightgown, to bleeding paintings and possessed people. Plot wise I never really understood why the characters stayed there when all this bad and seemingly demonic stuff was happening, but the plot felt a bit ethereal with it sometimes feeling more like it was atmosphere than story the movie was around for. Special mention goes to the fantastic soundtrack, something that added so much to the scenes. As a whole this looked great, giving the feel of an old film without the need to add artificial film grain and other effects to get that feel over.

I thought The Nightgown was a neat indie horror, inventive and with plenty of unexpected moments throughout. I may have became increasingly lost with exactly what was happening, but the relatively small cast all played their roles well, making a film that felt true to its roots, and something that had a surreal vibe all of its own.


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