Billie Jean (Jesi Jensen) is a military veteran, now a police detective on the trail of the Le Nain Rouge (Jesse Dean), a creature of Detroit mythology that is brutally murdering local crime figures.
Oh, and incidentally her squadmate Liam is played by Eminem’s younger brother … Elinel? (Nathan Mathers). It rather looks like Mathers was intended as a draw, but was only paid for one or two days of shooting. He is an utterly incidental character with very little screentime. Which, you know, isn’t so bad because his acting is as bad as his offensively over-groomed baby beard (which he also wears in army flashbacks, which would not be allowed, but I guess they didn’t pay him enough to shave).
So let’s start with the myth of Le Nain Rouge. The name means “Red Dwarf” and is a legend local to Detroit. He is short and red and his presence presages disaster. Detroit residents hold an annual parade to scare the dude off for another year. The myth is thought to be a sort of combination of a French myth of a little goblin creature and the local Ottawa tribe’s mythology.
That from a quick Google search.
This movie has decided that no, it is a violent, blood-thirsty creature that is summoned by use of a plastic Native American bone knife, which is stolen from a museum in the opening sequence.
The title, “Devil’s Night,” refers to another annual tradition in Detroit, of party and pranks on the night before Halloween. It has nothing to do with Le Nain Rouge, whose parade is normally in the spring. But hey, let’s just make something up and tack it onto an urban legend or two. That’s a thing movies do.
The biggest tension throughout is wondering whose fault this is.
The acting: bad. The script: bad. The editing: bad. The direction: bad. Horror and gore makeup: bad. The soundtrack: actually pretty good. Many times I thought to myself, “This music is really good. It feels like it was written for a better movie.” If the music has more drama than the acting, though, it kinda of calls attention to itself. Which paradoxically makes it so good it’s a bad choice.
And the “twist” at the climax is telegraphed from a mile away.
Oh, and the black guy dies first. So … that’s a film tradition.
The entire thing seems like a sort of negative tourism ad to scare people away from Detroit, where it was mostly filmed. Almost entirely shot among crumbling ruins and broken pavements, the setting seemed downright post-apocalyptic.
It also felt like a possible pilot for a TV series. Billie Jean is completely credulous and uncritical, jumping to the supernatural conclusion with almost no resistance. She’s model-made up and her and her uniform are starkly clean and starched amid the crumbling, gritty setting.
Despite a couple high moments, this is a turkey. I don’t even know who would enjoy this.
Rating: 2 out of 10 Overgroomed Baby Beards