Nighttime Shenanigans: “The Overnight” and “The Gallows”

Quick reviews for two movies that take place over the course of basically one night.

The Overnight

When I saw two elderly women get up and leave the movie theater before even half the movie was through, I thought they were making a mistake. Sure, we just saw Adam Scott and Jason Schwartzman spend a disconcerting amount of time talking about paintings inspired by anuses, but what could possibly go wrong in a movie with a strong cast and a good number of laughs?

Oh wait, exaggerated prosthetic genitalia (don’t worry: the link is a SFW clip from a Conan O’Brien interview) and a plot that goes from genuinely raw to sadly predictable, that’s what.

A couple (Adam Scott and Taylor Schilling) moves from Seattle to LA and is looking for some new friends; lo and behold, they meet Kurt (Jason Schwartzman) and Charlotte (Judith Godrèche). They all have dinner at Kurt’s beautiful home and have a wild time.

You know, alcohol and weed.

But then things start to get out of hand, and Taylor Schilling’s character feels some swinger vibes. Adam Scott is having the time of his life so he initially refutes his wife’s position. Later on, you learn they were both kind of right.

Like I said, the first half is really fun and the offbeat humor works well, especially thank to Schwartzman. While it’s jarring for me to see Adam Scott in anything outside of Parks and Recreation, he nobly carries his role, which becomes all the more obvious in some later scenes involving nudity and a climactic scene that’s supposed to be a twist but ends up being clunky and totally wrong for the moment.

There are some movies you wish were longer; I wish The Overnight ended halfway through. While it certainly attacks issues like male body issues involving penis size and the angst of married couples when they think about whether it’s okay to even fantasize about having sex with other people, there’s just too much shock value here for the sake of shocking you.

Maybe those two old ladies had the right idea – they certainly took in the best parts and left at the best time, it seems.

The Gallows

In 1993 a Nebraska high school puts on a play which ends in a tragic accident when the presumably climactic scene ends with a literal hanging. Twenty years later, the school decides to do the play all over again, which is pretty much the worst idea imaginable.

This is yet another entry in the seemingly endless genre of found footage films and, like the majority of them, relies on a hefty number of jump scares which escalate in intensity over the course of the movie. A bunch of nobodies provide some acceptable acting, while Cassidy Gifford gets the blood pumping within the male demographic (I’m sure it was just a coincidence that she’s a cheerleader who wears a tight tank top and short shorts and ends up glistening with sweat).

If reproducing a play that ended with a death isn’t bad enough, imagine how bad it is to break into school right before opening night to sabotage the play so it can’t be shown.

Chaos ensues, as the four students end up locked in and then the usual found footage bullshit starts to mount up. You know the drill: future victims start going into dark and sketchy places when they should all just stick together and wait until morning, future victims proceed to encounter all sorts of weird noises and hidden rooms with creepy things like a TV that goes from white noise and static to 1993 news footage covering the death, then future victims get picked off one by one.

The Gallows is also riddled with plot holes which I’m too lazy to even go into, as well as a stupid twist at the end that would make even M. Night Shyamalan groan in disappointment.

Then there are the awkward race issues. There isn’t a single black person in the movie. I imagine the entire tone of the film would have been different, no? Especially in this overly political correct era?

But don’t completely wallow in despair, because despite all my insults, The Gallows does have a few shining moments (other than Cassidy Gifford’s bosom which seems to get a lot of screen time – I’ll just attribute that to the “cameraman” being her boyfriend who also just happens to be a football player).

There are a couple of tense scenes that go on for a while where you’re certain something is going to happen, only nothing does. Also, I think the idea in itself was promising since I don’t ever recall any type of horror film with this premise, which is certainly different than the usual haunted mansion or whatever.

Decent premise, lackluster execution. Did I mention Cassidy Gifford looks great?

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