‘Take Back The Night’ (2021): Monsters In The “Me Too” Era – Movie Review

Filmmaker Gia Elliot’s feature film Directorial debut, Take Back The Night (2021), has been cleaning up on the festival circuit over the past year. The film has won a ton of awards, taking home hardware for Best Feature, Best Director, Best Actress, and even an Audience Award at various genre fests in 2021. Dark Sky Films is bringing the thriller/creature feature to select theaters and digital platforms soon. I was fortunate enough to get a sneak peek before the full release. So what’s the verdict? Is it as good as the preview audiences have been saying?

Watch the official trailer below, then read on for my (spoiler-free) thoughts!

Take Back The Night Synopsis

Finding herself the victim of a violent monster attack, Jane launches a vigilante campaign to hunt the beast that tried to kill her. Jane’s efforts intensify, but her troubling history of drug use and mental illness bubbles to the surface causing her family, community, and authorities to question the authenticity of her account. Suddenly alone in her fight, Jane starts to doubt her own memory of the attack…to doubt if Monster exists at all.

Gia Elliot directed the film, which she co-wrote with star Emma Fitzpatrick (The Collection 2012 – our review). Angela Gulner (Glow),
Jennifer Lafleur (The Midnight Swim), and Sibongile Mlambo (Teen Wolf, Lovecraft Country) co-star alongside Fitzpatrick.

Here’s a look at the official poster art.

Real-Life Monsters

In Take Back The Night, artist and social media influencer Jane Doe (Emma Fitzpatrick) finds herself locked out of a party and attacked by a hideous creature. Somehow, she wakes up in the Emergency Room and goes through the anguish of reporting a sexual assault: Police photos. Medical examination. Detective interview. She is forced to re-live the events, only to have judgment, doubt, and accusations cast upon her at every turn. Not just from the Police, but from her own Sister (Angela Gulner) and her social media following. Jane refuses to be a victim, but as she struggles to get her life back on track, she finds that even though she’s surrounded by people, she really is alone.

This is a tough film to watch because the story is, unfortunately, all too real. It’s no coincidence the film shares its title with the real-life organization: Take Back The Night. We live in a society where 1 in 5 women are sexually assaulted in their lifetimes. As you watch the events unfold here, and you see how Jane is doubted and questioned and blamed, it’s not hard to understand why 63% of these assaults go unreported. If watching Scooby-Doo for 40 years has taught us anything, it’s that humans are the real monsters. Nowhere is that more evident than here.

Girl Power

Talented women power Take Back The Night both in front of and behind the camera. Aside from two off-screen male vocal performances, the cast is made up entirely of women. Even the monster! It’s interesting that the characters don’t really have names. The main character is “Jane Doe,” and the other characters are referred to generically as “Sister,” “Detective,” etc.

Emma Fitzpatrick shines in the lead role. She’s independent, vulnerable, and at the same time tough as nails. Her performance spans the emotional spectrum, and she really helps you feel what her Jane Doe character feels. Angela Gulner, Jennifer Lafleur, and Sibongile Mlambo also shine in their respective supporting roles.

Take Back The Night is tightly scripted, solidly-paced, and filled with tension. It’s a good-looking film: well shot, well lit, with tight direction. It’s easy to see why this film has earned so many accolades during its festival run. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing what Gia Elliot does next.

Take back The Night

Final Thoughts

Take Back The Night is an emotionally powerful thriller that will stick with you long after the credits roll. Emma Fitzpatrick delivers a memorable performance and Gia Elliot shows why she’s a feature filmmaker to watch.

Take Back The Night hits select theaters and digital platforms on March 4, 2022 from Dark Sky Films. I definitely recommend checking it out.

Let us know if you plan to see it in the comments!

About Kenn Hoekstra

PopHorror Writer. Associate Editor. @PopHorrorNews Tweeter. Also... Screenwriter. Blogger. Horror Movie Aficionado. Wisconsin Sports Fan. IT Guy. Father. Smartass. People's Champion. TIME Person of the Year - 2006.

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