We’ve all had nights which we wish we could forget. Or, to put it more prosaically, nights which we’ve completely forgotten (nothing to do with that last shot, of course). But when an evening heads south on the big screen, the characters often have more than an impending hangover to worry about.
Except in The Hangover, of course, but that’s a law unto itself.
Lucia Aniello’s debut feature Rough Night reunites a group of college friends ten years after graduation for a raucous hen night. Ten years older, but perhaps not ten years wiser, the group seize the opportunity to reclaim their youth and the bachelorette party begins in full swing. Then a stripper is called, things get our of hand and suddenly the group are in for a very different night out.
Scarlett Johansson, Zoë Kravitz, Kate McKinnon, Jillian Bell, Ilana Glazer, Paul W. Downs, Ty Burrell, and Demi Moore star in Aniello’s film, which is out on Blu-ray and DVD on Boxing Day. So, what better time to look back at those evenings when everything went wrong…
From twilights spent careering around darkened streets to battles with the foes from another dimension, quiet nights in are in short supply for our protagonists. So, order that pizza, dim the lights, and let someone else have the rough night for a change.
Attack the Block
In some ways, it’s a tried and tested formula. Aliens infiltrate suburbia, and it’s up to a group of plucky kids to stop them. Indeed, Joe Cornish’s opening salvo as a director drips with Spielberg DNA and carries inflections of Stephen King and John Carpenter, but it’s so much more than a re-tread.
Set in inner-city London, and housed in an ominous tower block, Attack The Block is an absolute joy from start to finish. This is the film that made John Boyega a bankable lead and even features the soon-to-be incumbent in the TARDIS. It provides scares, laughs and fist-pumps of joy. Perfect for those going cold turkey after Stranger Things.
There was a time when hand-held footage films were at the forefront of cinema. The Blair Witch Project made it fashionable, and Cloverfield arguably saw it reach its apex. As a group of New Yorkers struggle against a monster of epic proportions, it’s a film which uses the unseen as adeptly as the seen.
Suspense grows in lieu of visuals, and the story grows to a mournful and impactful end. Though the handheld style can take a while to acclimatise to, it takes a Monster Movie and makes it altogether more human.
Michael Mann’s neo-noir features an unhinged Tom Cruise collecting bodies as he’s driven around town by Jamie Foxx. Mann’s stylistic visuals compliment the leads’ performances, with Cruise delivering an intensity only usually seen when he’s defending Scientology.
In fact, the easy decision would’ve been to reverse the roles. Jamie Foxx can bring crazy in abundance (Baby Driver, for instance), and Tom Cruise does doe-eyed buoyancy like few others. Yet the role-reversal plays with the viewers expectations, and creates a killer double-act akin to Mann’s sublime Heat.
Full transparency here, I’m not a big Horror fan – please don’t @ me. Terror isn’t a mood I choose to inhabit too often, but, Don’t Breathe is a gripping watch. It’s packaged as a fairly conventional Home Invasion movie, but Fede Álvarez’s film plays with expectations and cliché in interesting ways.
Simplicity is its greatest ally, and the plot increasingly burrows its way under your skin. All of this occasionally means that you’re obliged to fulfil what the title has been telling you all along.
Christmas Film? A cosmic debate which rears its ugly head every Yuletide (it is, FYI). The template for action movies since it was released? That’s undebatable. Looking back at Die Hard and it’s tempting to view it as cliched.
The one-man-army lead squaring off against the sociopathic villain has become such a cornerstone of action cinema that it doesn’t appear overtly innovative. Yet, John McTiernan’s film set the mould in the first place. Bruce Willis is endlessly entertaining in the role which made him internationally famous, and the late, great Alan Rickman chews through scenery with aplomb.
Tom Hardy’s a versatile actor. Whether he’s scene stealing dreams in Inception, or beating the hell out of Batman, he sucks in the audience’s attention like a black hole. Locke is quite literally a vehicle for Hardy to reflect his talents.
Set entirely in a car en route up North, and with dialogue consisting solely of phone conversations, the eponymous Locke’s life falls apart with every passing mile. Sceptical viewers may think that the story has a limited amount of mileage (sorry), but the taut run-time keeps you engaged throughout.
Almost every American comedy produced in the last ten years features a touch of Judd Apatow. The off-brand humour of Anchorman evolved into a gawkier, lewder shape when placed in the hands of Michael Cera and Jonah Hill. As these two hapless protagonists try to desperately to get laid, their night descends into farce. Endlessly quotable, worryingly relatable and laugh-out-loud funny on occasion, it provokes us all to question who our McLovin is. (N.B. If you can’t think of a friend who fits the bill, it’s probably you.)