starring Anna Rose Hopkins, Robert Jumper, Karina Macias
directed by Tim Sutton
It’s no mystery that 2016 has been the worst year, with country-wide shootings, arising racial-tensions, and now a much dreaded Donald Trump presidency. For the next four years, you can bet that art, especially film, will be the one medium we can use as a mirror and a guide for the society we currently live in. And director Tim Sutton aims to do just that with Dark Night, which plays as a reimagining of the 2012 Cineplex mass-shooting that happened during a midnight premiere of The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, Colorado. However, instead of being a more in-depth, updated version of Gus Van Sant’s Elephant (based on the Columbine school shootings), Sutton takes the ultra-quiet route, and has a hard time navigating around the six characters that his film focuses on. Like Elephant, the film takes place from the beginning to the end of a day, leading up to the late-night theater massacre, where all of the characters obviously end up, but the stories of which do not really intersect. The unnamed characters introduced are not given enough context to resonate, and for 80 minutes we simply wander around in their mundane-presented lives. And there’s this confusing story-format , for instance, one socially awkward young “artist” is being interviewed as if he was the shooter. But it’s actually another socially-enept young-adult (an intense and scary Robert Jumper). Jumper’s performace almost lets us in to what is going on with this deeply-troubled youth, mostly based on a single somber-interaction he has with a presumed ex-girlfriend. But it’s still not enough, the talents of the casts unable to bring really any dimensions to what we see on-screen.
There are moments that still shine, be it any scene with a girl that mostly sees herself through selfies on her Iphone, or a scene consisting of two girls, an open window, and the barrel of an automatic rifle, which will surely scare the hell out of you. But by using repeated b-roll shots, little dialogue, and misplaced music, you can practically hear the gears grinding as Suttons reach over-exceeds his grasp. Nevertheless, Dark Night still feels somewhat vital, as this countries unwarranted love of and accessibility to weapons will probably only get worse, now that a nationalists douche like Trump has taken over the land of the free. And for that, we can at least thank Tim Sutton for trying.