Having done the festival rounds in 2016, and now hitting home entertainment platforms, here is my review of Tim Sutton's drama Dark Night, based on the shooting that took place in a cinema in 2012.

Loosely based on the true story of the shooting that occurred back in 2012, during a midnight screening of Christopher Nolan's hugely-anticipated The Dark Knight Rises, Dark Night tells the story of six strangers that find their lives viciously shaken up and affected when their stories intersect at a suburban Cineplex to see the aforementioned blockbuster. We follow them in their lives in the build-up to the harrowing tragedy, as well as during and after it too.

The trouble with filmmakers examining real-life tragedies such as this is there is a necessity to do the victims and the story justice, but also to keep it interesting enough that a moviegoer can latch on and engage with the material. Films like Deepwater Horizon and Patriot's Day do a superb job of balancing fact with fiction and depicting their respective events with grace and truth but also enough nuance and depth to make them work as cinematic pieces too. With Dark Night, director Tim Sutton has a difficult job at finding the middle ground. The film handles the source material with care and respect, but, in doing so, it tiptoes around the subject and this makes for a film that, whilst having an intriguing premise, can be a bit of a bore.
For the large majority of the runtime, the film is devoid of any real tension and is absent of much of a compelling edge. We are introduced to our various characters and we follow their everyday lives in the hours leading up to the film's central tragedy but it just ends up dragging. There are lots of long, lingering moments of silence and nothingness; we aren't given much to work with in terms of character building, they're just kind of there and are quite thin - it diffuses any possible tension. The film is visually quite slick and gorgeous, though; the shots are sumptuous and nice and Sutton's direction and storytelling are pretty competent too. The depiction of the shooting itself is visceral and quite a harrowing affair, it certainly makes for a tense, uncomfortable scene. It's just a shame that the build-up to it falls a little flat; the ideas and potential are there, the film just lacks the execution and nuance to really make for a truly compelling watch.

Dark Night meanders aimlessly and misfires on most cylinders; the potential is there, but the lack of execution and astute focus is tediously apparent.

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About the Author

Awais Irfan
Founder of Oasis Awais, and avid lover of life, Awais Irfan's love of writing and film is unequivocal. Ever since he was a little kid, he has loved the cinematic experience; so much so, he is studying Film Production in Glasgow and hopes to be the next "big thing" in directing.

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