Director: Richard Schenkman
Year of release: 2013
Country of origin: USA
Running time: 87 minutes
DVD/Blu ray: DVD only
Tagline: "Don't open the door".
Casting the spotlight on the slasher genre
Story: Firstly I should clarify that there are two slasher type films sharing the Mischief Night name, a 2013 film about a blind girl and another one which came out a year later of the same name which is also known as Devil's Night. I am reviewing the 2013 film about the blind girl here which begins with two lovers being slain on Mischief Night (apparently a night for pranks just before Halloween) by a masked fellow in a yellow slicker.
We then jump forward in time a little way and meet our main character Emily, a young woman who has been living with blindness and asthma attacks for the last nine years brought on by the trauma of being involved in a car crash as a child which claimed the life of her mother. It is quickly established that both she and her father reside within the same property that the couple in the opening scene were attacked in. In another coincidence it is Mischief Night once again and Emily's father is going out on his first date since his wife's death leaving Emily home alone. It isn't long before the house falls under attack, seemingly from the same killer who terrorised the original couple some time before. A deadly game of cat and mouse ensues with the masked figure eventually finding his way inside the house to torment the blind Emily.
Good points: The killer looks quite decent, not great but the mask coupled with the yellow slicker creates a fairly unique look and he comes across as quite menacing on occasion. This menace was heightened though by the fact that Emily couldn't see him so perhaps he wouldn't have come across as so intimidating against a normally sighted character.
There are a couple of red herrings thrown into the mix in the shape of the father and boyfriend which although pretty basic do keep you guessing a little bit as to who the killer may be.
Although largely light on kills there are a couple of decent deaths in this, the best one being towards the end involving a chainsaw.
The writers do use Emily's blindness to very good effect in several of the scenes throughout the film. I liked how she was often startled by unexpected noises or uses her sense of touch to discover things about her environment. The parts where she uses her hands to critique her fathers outfit and when by feel she discovers that it isn't her boyfriend standing in front of her are both well done. Another good scene in this vein is the bit where she was trying to turn the fire alarm off by standing on the table and she was without realising it very close to falling off the edge and then cut her foot on glass that she couldn't see when she stepped down. Similarly I liked how she didn't notice the killer who was right outside the window when she was closing the blind and how she missed the corpse on the floor and thus didn't realise the danger she was in. Her speaker phone type gadget was also nicely done. These little touches were the best thing about the film for me and helped ratchet up the tension in various places as well as give it a bit more of a fresh feel compared to other similar films.
Bad Points: The main issue with Mischief Night is that there isn't much story to speak of. Periodically we would see flashbacks of Emily in therapy or towards the end to the car accident which killed her mother which Emily blames herself for. I was expecting these fragments to lead towards some sort of revelation at the end that would either tie in to the killer or to Emily regaining her sight but that didn't turn out to be the case. When properly revealed there didn't seem to be any reason as to why Emily would blame herself for the accident as her mom was texting when it happened so it was her fault if anything. When Emily was saying it was her fault I was expecting her to forgive herself or when she fully remembered the crash details to realise that it wasn't actually her fault which would have sparked the return of her vision. This would have made more sense but wasn't what they chose to do. The killer also doesn't have any kind of backstory that ties in with the accident which was a bit of a disappointment as well.
I don't think they make it clear enough that Emily has good hearing which presumably she did to make up for her blindness. We assume she must have had good hearing in order to do what she did towards the end when she was beneath the room where the killer was but they could have established her hearing a little bit earlier on. For example there is a scene near the start where her boyfriend tries to sneak up on her and she detects him by smell but they could have changed that to her hearing him although he was trying to be quiet and then he could have made a comment about how good her hearing is.
At one point there was a scene where the killer is chasing Emily and she shuts herself in a room but instead of him trying to get in he just seems to leave her there for ages and she starts to sit down and almost begin relaxing a bit which seems very unrealistic.
There is also a weird scene where Emily goes to the door to call for her aunt and when she comes back in she panics because she can't find something on the table (presumably her phone). I think we were supposed to assume that the killer who was standing near by moved it when she went to the door but there was nothing on the table even before she went to the door. So either that bit was edited wrong or perhaps they showed something being on the table much earlier that I had since forgotten about that the killer moved prior to this scene off camera.
Verdict: On the whole I thought the film was a bit underwhelming which was mainly due to a lack of effort being put into it from a storyline perspective. I was hoping things would pick up in terms of story at the end as I was hoping for a twist or revelation that would tie things together but alas such a twist never came. The flat ending as a result does leave a bit of a bad taste in the mouth and leaves you feeling perhaps a little cheated. Having said that though it certainly isn't all bad as the film does use Emily's blindness to very good effect which results in some edge of your seat high tension moments. In fact pretty much all of the good things stem from the blindness and the sense of vulnerability it creates around Emily. The film did remind me a bit of another quite disappointing home invasion slasher type film, the remake of When a Stranger Calls which probably isn't a good thing.
Bodycount (contains major spoilers):
1) Man, killed off camera. We hear a scream and later his body is thrown against the car window spurting blood.
2) Kim, killed with an axe through the front window of the car.
3) Lauren who is stabbed in the neck/chin area.
4) Jimmy, shot by Emily's father in a case of mistaken identity.
5) A random trucker who tries to help who is stabbed in the back.
6) Killer number 1, eviscerated through the floor by Emily with a chainsaw.
7) Killer number 2 who is shot by Emily as she begins to regain her sight.