I’ll watch anything with Tony Todd in it. Even if he’s just got a few lines, you know they’ll be delivered with a soul-shaking, baritone, horrific gusto. He never half-asses it, our guy Tony, but let’s be honest: particularly in recent years, a number of the low-budget productions he’s been involved with have indeed been half-assed.
Which brings us to our latest “Halloween On Hulu” offering, a 2013-filmed UK number I found in their “horror and suspense” section last night called Dead Of The Nite. And I’m sorry, but this flick is just straight-up atrocious on pretty much every level.
Welcome to another “found footage” paranormal story! A crew of purportedly intrepid “ghost hunters” are off to investigate the infamous Jericho Manor, which has a standard-issue “haunted history,” and once they arrive to roll cameras for their internet “live feed” show, they’re informed by the caretaker (played by Todd) that they’ll have to be, of course, locked in for the night, because that’s how these things work. They say that’s cool with them and then they proceed to get spooked out of their wits by clanging doors and the sound of footsteps and — you know the drill, by the time it’s all over only the camera survives.
The one slight “difference” that writer/director S.J. Evans offers up in this dull shaky-cam extravaganza is that instead of “real” ghosts and goblins, there’s a very human, flesh-and-blood killer at work here, but that doesn’t make things any more interesting — and while some of the kills are reasonably effective, his ultra-low budget (20,000 pounds according to IMDB) more or less guarantees that they all end up looking both phony and stupid. The wretched acting by more or less everyone involved doesn’t help matters, either, and “stars” like Paul Fox and Cicely Tennant hopefully still have their day jobs to fall back on , because they’re never going to make it on either screen or stage.
Sadly, that list of bad performances also includes Todd’s, who proves my opening statement to be a lie by half-assing it all they way here. He’s clearly “mailing it in,” as the saying goes, and probably showed up for one day’s filming, took his check, and high-tailed it back to the US. I honestly felt embarrassed for the guy, and that’s pretty bizarre considering that he should be the embarrassed one. But whatever. We all have out off-days, I suppose, and this is definitely Tony at his lowest and most listless. I never thought I’d say this, but he’s just plain fucking terrible in this film — but at least he’s in plentiful company, because everyone else, both in front of and behind the camera, sucks just as much. The whole thing comes off as a student project undertaken by some particularly bad students who had just enough money to hire a slumming genre star for an afternoon.
So yeah — skip this one. I said at the outset that I’d watch anything with Tony Todd in it, but I didn’t foresee that he would ever be in anything as wretched and irredeemable as Dead Of The Nite. As they say in this film’s country of origin, this is pure, unmitigated shite.