Take Back the Night review – brutal attack leaves a woman fighting to be believed | Movies
In Gia Elliot’s horror parable, a foul presence preys on women in the dark alleys of Los Angeles, but the real terror stems from the ordeal of not being believed. After a night of heavy drinking, an artist who goes by the name of “Jane Doe Does” on social media staggers home, only to be brutally attacked by a mysterious demon. Despite her injuries, a history of petty crime, substance abuse and mental illness tragically turns the police, the media and her own followers against her. Jane spirals into a cycle of paranoia as the deadly creature stalks her every footstep.
Like many recent horror films that are so laden with political allegories that they say little of substance, this well-intentioned commentary on how victims of assault are failed by the system is a muddled affair. Characters such as the Detective and the Reporter remain nameless, a storytelling flourish that purports to emphasise how common Jane’s experience is in the real world: in truth, these figures are so thinly sketched that they seem more like bullet points than an incisive critique of a ravenous media and an uncaring police force.
In contrast to the malnourished storyline and the rudimentary visuals, Emma Fitzpatrick is affecting as the spiralling Jane; her final face-off with the demon is particularly impressive. In fact, in contrast to the more contrived turns of the plot, it is the thorny yet loving dynamic between the rebellious Jane and her straitlaced sister that proves to be the film’s most interesting aspect. Perhaps, rather than relying on genre conventions and slight metaphors, Take Back the Night could have delivered its social message more effectively as a straightforward character study.