At Night Comes Wolves (2021) But You Won’t Really Notice
Title: At Night Comes Wolves
First Wide Release: April 20, 2021 (Digital/Streaming Platforms)
Director: Tj Marine
Writer: Tj Marine
Runtime: 76 Minutes
Starring: Gabi Alves, Jacob Allen Weldy, Sarah Serio, Vladimir Noel
Where to Watch: Check out where to find it here
Leah (Gabi Alves) leaves her husband (Jacob Allen Weldy) after a fight that devolves into him spewing abusive and sexist insults at her. She drives into the night stopping only when she runs out of gas. She eventually meets a strange woman, Mary May (Sarah Serio) who leads Leah to Davey Stone (Vladimir Noel) for guidance. Unbeknownst to Leah, she is introduced to the leader of a cult who is determined to bring an end to misogyny and is connected to Leah more closely than she thinks. Meanwhile, a man and a woman hole up in house bloodied and bruised, only to connect with two other timelines by the end of the film.
At Night Comes Wolves is a jumbled mess of indie filmmaking that misses any point it tries to make by neglecting to make a good film first.
It’s important to give credit to indie filmmakers when trying something new and coming at it from left field. Presented in a non-linear format, At Night Comes Wolves attempts to blend three seemingly unrelated stories together. When done right, this is a great technique for elevating the suspense and layering the plot with deeper nuance and opportunities to foreshadow. Unfortunately, due to iffy writing, poor editing, and a lack of direction, At Night Comes Wolves doesn't pull it off, muddling its story and confusing the audience.
The script propels these issues and more. Two of the stories fit in decently well with each other, while the other with Paris and Randy sticks out noticeably. Just because these three short stories could be pieced together, doesn’t mean they should be. Everyone speaks in these platitudes that don’t really give much in terms of character or plot development. It mostly feels like the writer is using his characters as a vehicle to speak his thoughts verbatim. Using pseudo-intellectual language doesn’t make your script better or your film more interesting!
These characters aren’t given the attention they deserve either. Forgetting the all-around poor performances by most of the cast, except Vladimir Noel, most characters wander in and out of the story without much purpose. Their development is blunted further by the presentation of the film’s chaotic timeline. It’s hard to know how a character changes when you can’t even tell when the action is happening in relation to the rest of the film.
On an individual level, this hurts Leah the most, who should absolutely have a stronger and more realized arc than she is given. From a group perspective, labelling the handful of people involved as a cult is an odd choice to me. It has the makings of a cult but for a large portion of the film’s history this cult consists of two people. That doesn’t check out for me.
It’s clear that the film wants to paint misogyny in a poor light, which is a noble effort. There’s not much substance, however, behind the execution. It’s clear that Daniel is a terrible husband who gaslights and demeans his wife, driving her to leave him. The decision to give him this “power” of having an influence on others under the guise of healing and protection is also inspired, offering a nice juxtaposition to cults implying that subscribing to toxic masculinity is cult-like behavior. Unfortunately, the film doesn’t go any deeper than this and say anything more despite having a solid foundation.
Truly, At Night Comes Wolves is an irritating film that revels in its attempts for mediocrity. Obviously, it is low budget fare, limited by both size and scope, so I don’t want to kick it while it is down. That doesn’t, however, excuse the laziness that comes through from the writing and directing. Revealed in trivia that the film was originally three unrelated shorts, this reviewer can’t help but think it might have been better off had it been fashioned that way. It’s poorly edited, lacks cohesion, and simply doesn’t work as a feature film. At night wolves may come, but hopefully at night this film doesn’t come anywhere near your television screen.
Overall Score? 3.5/10