Birthday revelry collides with sibling rivalry in Take the Night, a tight little noir about a prank gone wrong,
The story revolves around two sets of brothers. The first pair, William and Robert, preside over a multinational import firm. The second, Chad and Todd, are scroungers, looking for an easy and not necessarily legal payday.
And then the two families intersect.
William decides to have a little fun with his brother, the family favorite, by orchestrating a staged kidnapping, meant to terrorize him a bit before depositing him at the scene of his surprise birthday party.
William hires Chad to make it happen. But Chad and Todd have their own ideas. After all, why stage a fake abduction when you can just as easily do a real one – and make some real money along the way?
This is a great start for a movie although, as with a lot of low-budgeted thrillers, the plotting starts to get patchy at the end, and sometimes the budgetary constraints start to show.
The details of the crime, and the aftermath, are – without giving anything away — sketchy at best, and confusing at worst. (Not that I understand cryptocurrency in real life, but the film never makes it clear just how the crooks intend to steal it.)
And the settings don’t fit the characters – with Chad and Todd’s shared home far too nice for the likes of them, and William and Robert’s far too modest. (It also seems highly unlikely that two fabulous rich bachelors would be sharing a house – especially since they clearly can’t stand each other.)
Seth McTigue’s direction is solid, though, with a good eye for catching exchanged glances, and a nice sense of pace and tension. And the acting is – mostly – terrific. Roy Huang and Sam Song Li are believably prickly as the rich brothers, for example, and Brennan Keel Cook brings a dirtbag energy to the motormouthed Todd.
But McTigue has cast himself as Chad, and that’s a huge mistake. Playing the lead role in a movie you’re also producing and directing, when you’ve never acted in a feature before? Not smart. Relying on cheap cliches, like making him a war veteran with PTSD, so you don’t have to construct a full character? Not cool.
Rainer Lipski’s cinematography is appropriately dark and forbidding, and co-star Grace Serrano has an easy, unforced believability as a beleaguered executive assistant. The theme of warring brothers, disappointed fathers and family obligations is also nicely carried throughout the story.
But the script needed one more rewrite. And the cast needed just one more professional actor.