The Blood Stream mines the Internet for horror gold so you don’t have to, delivering streamable horror titles never before featured on Dread Central. Occasionally I’ll dredge up something good, maybe even great. To find those gems, I’ll have to sift through a lot of breathtakingly bad cinema. Enjoy!
Lame title notwithstanding, 7 Nights of Darkness is a totally enjoyable found footage horror movie I’d never heard of before. If you’ve got nothing to watch and you’re even remotely fond of paranormal investigations, you should totally check it out.<7nights2.png>
The film is presented as cobbled-together footage from an unaired reality TV competition. Title cards explain that six strangers were sent into a spooky old building called The Madison Seminary with video cameras, sleeping bags and a list of tasks to complete. At the end of seven nights, whoever hadn’t run off in terror would split a million dollar prize. But, we’re told, no prize money was ever claimed. Duhn duhn DUHN!
Okay, sure, that setup is so worn out it could apply to half of those god awful Scary Movie spoofs. But when you’re dealing with horror so obscure it went unnoticed by Dread Central, a recycled concept is generally the least of your worries. To my great delight, that totally forgivable lapse in originality is among 7 Nights of Darkness’ more prominent flaws. That means it is otherwise surprisingly good.
Perhaps the most prominent flaw is the distractingly terrible actress who plays Lina, a babbling idiot who insists on invoking the spirits when everyone else just wants to lay low and get paid. Thankfully most of her dialogue happens in the first third of the movie. I really warmed up to her once she stopped talking.
Aside from Lina, the cast is decent. Amateur, but serviceable. They get tongue-tied during heated group discussions, which tend to break down into directionless cacophonies of f-bombs and douchebags. But just as often their ad-libs bring an organic quality to a relatively flat script. While investigating a supposedly haunted bathroom, for example, one of the group heckles true believer Lina by quipping, “EMF stands for everybody makes fudge…” They even occasionally deliver a few profoundly relatable lines like, “I don’t want to be the last one! Please, somebody get behind me!”
Granted, like most found footage horror movies, the tension in 7 Nights is sustained only through faulty logic and myriad bad decisions. Stretching it out over seven nights when five would suffice just makes it that much harder to stomach. The needle on my bullshit meter just about broke off when one character’s face transformed on camera, yet no one ran screaming out the front door. When the camera guy reports what he saw to the others, no one believes him. A five-minute shouting match ensues, but he never thinks to show them the indisputable video evidence he’s holding in his hand.
You wouldn’t be wrong to call 7 Nights of Darkness a lower budget Grave Encounters (even though 7 Nights was probably shot first). Both are found footage horror based around the reality show shtick and both incorporate body morph CG for scares. The effects in Grave Encounters, however, are gratuitous, making the whole movie feel like the frenetic climax of Paranormal Activity 2. 7 Nights’ lack of budget imposed a certain restraint that was absent from its better known cousin. There are a few clumsy CG effects, but mostly the haunting is accomplished via camera tricks and lens filters. It feels old fashioned. Like 80s TV, but in a good way. Earnest.
Is it The Blair Witch Project? Of course not. But it’s way better than it has any right to be, and I definitely bit on more than one jump scare. If you’re desperate enough to be reading this, 7 Nights of Darkness is worth your time.
If you can’t be bothered with the work of enthusiastic amateurs, I don’t know, watch Paranormal Activity 4. Also available for free for Amazon Prime subscribers, PA4 is a slicker haunted house movie with bigger scares, better performances, more deliberate direction and infinitely higher production values. Then again, it’s also an irrational, shark-jumping attempt to wring a few more dollars out of a franchise that should have quit while it was ahead. Maybe add 7 Nights to your watchlist anyway, just in case.
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