• E. L. King

TAKE BACK THE NIGHT Review - A Riot Girl Creature Feature

In their 4 Bloody Knife review, E.L. King calls Popcorn Frights Film Festival's New Nightmare Prize winner for Best Debut Film, Take Back The Night a creature feature about the grief, trauma and struggle to be believed following an attack through a horror lens.

Having the opportunity to virtually attend the Popcorn Frights Film Festival we jumped at the chance to screen the world premiere of the festival's New Nightmare Prize winner, Take Back The Night. The film is likely to be triggering for some as it mirrors the aftermath of a sexual assault. Finding herself the victim of a violent monster attack, Jane (Emma Fitzpatrick, The Collection) is determined to hunt down the creature. It is a story about the grief, trauma and struggle to be believed following an attack through a horror lens. Jane's history of drug use and mental illness causes those around her to question the authenticity of her account of the attack. With a sinister force stalking her whose existence she can't prove, she begins to doubt her own memory and if the monster is real.

Take Back The Night is a terrifying and though-provoking social critique under the blanket of a hair-raising horror tale. Gia Elliot directed and co-wrote the film with Emma Fitzpatrick. The film star Fitzpatrick in the title role of Jane. It's safe to say that it is no coincidence that the film's title is shared with 501(c)(3) charitable organization, the Take Back The Night Foundation that takes action against sexual violence and intimate partner violence.

"A riot girl creature feature for the Instagram age."

Gia Elliot discussed her passion project that was an endeavor four years in the making with Fangoria Magazine in July 2021 stating, "If you are violently attacked by a monster, you can tell your friends, you can tell your family, you can tell your community. You can also tell the Internet, and the Internet brings trolls, and trolls plant seeds of doubt that call into question the foundational reality of your story, but it can also connect you to an army of people who want not only see that same monster, but want to help you fight back. Co-writer and star Emma Fitzpatrick and I were compelled by the theme of ‘what’s real and who decides’ so we set our white-knuckled, riot girl creature feature in the Instagram age and took the protagonist on a mind-bending thrill ride through the grittiest parts of LA."

As things begin to unravel emotionally and what's real is called into question, we discover that there is an element at play devastatingly darker than Jane's stalking shadow monster. It is a monster of society's making motivated by the personal gain of not only the Detective (Jennifer Lafleur, Big Little Lies) but her partner the Reporter (Sibongile Mlambo, Siren). Everyday battles with mental illness are often demonized by society and that also plays a role in the film. Luckily for Jane there is a light through the darkness. The voices of other survivors of shadow creature attacks surface rallying Jane's sister to her side.

"No means no, Motherfucker!"

This film made us angry. Angry at the system that continually allows for victims to be made into villains and how society supports the system. When a system that is meant to protect us doesn't believe us and works to tear us down to avoid tax-payer dollars being spent on processing physical evidence kits, we really are in trouble. The audacity of the Detective, manipulating Jane to force a retraction statement go under our skin and really boiled our blood. When bad things happen, you shouldn't have to be society's classification of a model citizen to be believed. Take Back The Night points the finger at the class system and calls it out for how biased and backward it is.

The shadow creature is a terrifyingly beautiful phasing monstrosity. As an avid lover of creature features, it did not disappoint. The final act includes a battle for survival that is sure to thrill horror fans. We love gritty neon horror and this film certainly satisfied our hunger for it. Our friends at the Slash/Her podcast recently interviewed Gia Elliot and Emma Fitzpatrick about the film and we highly encourage you to give it a listen!

Take Back The Night had its world premiere at the Popcorn Frights Film Festival in Florida and no wide feature release date is set to date as the film is still in post production, but we look forward to screening it again.