disappeared in the night | movie reviews


There’s a reason I doubt using Airbnb to rent a vacation home – it’s because I’ve seen too many horror/thrillers where double booking leads to double fucking. (Although I’ve heard there’s also a rom-com that uses this starting point…) So the premise is cliched but, at least for a while, the movie keeps us guessing. Unfortunately, stiff acting, an increasingly hard-to-swallow script, and an excruciatingly bad ending torpedo from Eli Horowitz Gone into the night, making it unworthy even of streaming view. When the movie started, I wanted to like it. 90 minutes later, I just wanted it to end.

Gone into the night stars Winona Ryder as Kath, a college professor who is on a romantic getaway with her young boyfriend (and former student), Max (John Gallagher Jr.). When the two arrive at their intended temporary home, they’re surprised to find it’s already inhabited by the uncommunicative Al (Owen Teague) and his outgoing girlfriend, Greta (Brianne Tju). Although Al wants to be left alone, Greta invites Kath and Max over for the night, thinking they can contact the owner, Nicholas (Dermot Mulroney), the next day to sort things out.

After playing a few rounds of an adult board game with the other three, a tired Kath heads for her bed. When she wakes up, she finds that Max and Greta have disappeared. a shaken and crying Al claims they ran away together. The film then begins to jump back in time, revealing details of a previous contact between Max, Al, and Greta, as Kath tries to move on with her life. She meets Nicholas face to face; he agrees to help her in her search for the still-missing Max (and the equally elusive Greta) and the two become friends. Alas, this being a thriller, all is not as it seems.

At the end, Gone into the night feels too contrived and contrived to work. The film, co-written by director Horowitz (with Matthew Derby) never gets us to that critical point where we accept things so that the script can take liberties with logic and get away with it. The twists, although not always predictable in their specifics, are quite expected. The ending is ridiculous out loud (not a good thing because the movie isn’t trying to be a comedy or a satire).

It’s a shame because things start well – the cabin in the woods, the naughty sexual hints involving two couples, and the sudden disappearance of half the occupants. Did Max and Greta run away together like Al claims or did something sinister happen? Al, after all, gives off a creepy vibe. Then there’s Nicholas, whose second-act introduction makes us wonder how he’s involved. Once Gone into the night goes beyond the configuration stage, it falls off a narrative cliff.

stranger things may have reinvigorated Winona Ryder’s career, but we hope it’s not so she can make movies like this. Part of the reason the movie doesn’t work is because Ryder is either poorly cast or uninvested. His performance is flat and unemotional. Of the five main players, the only one who leaves an impression is Brianne Tju, whose Greta is a fireball of barely controlled energy. (She is primarily a television actress who has had a few small roles in minor films.)

There are movies with plot contortions and twisting endings that, in retrospect, are admirable in the way the pieces fit together. Gone into the night is not part of it. In real time, this seems confusing and arbitrary. For those willing to take the time to revisit the story from the endpoint, these descriptors are nice.


Gone in the Night (US, 2022)





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