Thursday, March 7, 2024

Night Shift (2024) - Movie Review

The Movie: Night Shift

The Director: The China Brothers (Paul & Ben)

The Cast: Phoebe Tonkin, Lamorne Morris, Madison Hu, Patrick Fischler, Lauren Bowles, Christopher Denham

The Story: While working her first night shift at a remote motel, a woman begins to suspect that the property is haunted.

The Rating: 7 / 10

The Review:
Sometimes you go into a movie having no idea what to expect. You hope it's going to be good but it kind of looks like it might not be and yet it's still intriguing enough to give it a shot. As a film critic, I run into this a lot and especially because I'm a sucker for horror movies. Give me all of them and then line up some more, I'll be here for it no matter how good or bad they are. I mean, when are we getting that zombie stormtrooper Star Wars horror movie?!

Okay, that had nothing to do with this movie but hey, horror movies are meant to be fun and I am happy to say that this one is no exception. The setup is pretty standard with the story being set at a run down roadside motel that clearly must be haunted because of course it would be and yet the directing duo of Paul and Ben China manage to put a fresh spin on the idea with a really fun plot twist that honestly surprised me even though afterwards I was like, well yeah, of course!

Phoebe Tonkin is pretty great in the lead role as Gwen Taylor, a young woman starting her first night on the job running the night shift operations of the roat and rat infested hotel that also has a gaping sink hole in the broken down swimming pool that surely had something creepy lirking down below. She clearly understood the assignment and plays the part perfectly without being either a damsel in distress type character or even the type of horror movie final girl that ends up being a super badass. She has flaws thanks to a tragic back story and Tonkin uses this to fuel Gwen's bubbling under the surface energy in a way that actually adds to the tension rather than being a counter point to it.

Along for the ride in a supporting role is Madison Hu who is a Disney channel veteran who you may have also seen in anything from Rob Savage's recent horror movie The Boogeyman or in Voyagers, the sci-fi flop (sorry!) from a few years ago although I have to point out one of her first roles which was in Bad Words, a hilarious movie starring Jason Bateman. Throw in some great work by Lamorne Morris as the motel owner along with Patrick Fischler and Lauren Bowles who play a rude, drunken rich couple who probably deserve to get chopped up more than anyone in the movie and you have a pretty solid cast of characters to work with.

This movie really carries the spirit, so to speak, of the type of classic horror movies that played well at drive in theaters or late at night on cable TV. The brotherly directing team doesn't try to get too fancy and the one hour and 22 minutes run time allows you to get in enjoy the fun, and get out which is spot on perfect for a fun horror movie like this. Who needs bloated exposition, excessive world building, and unecessary back story when you can just have a great time with a few great thrills and scares and call it a night...shift.

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