Horror movies can be gross. There is a huge following out there for all types of spooky cinema that fill the screen with gore and viscera. I am not one of those people. I can enjoy films that border on the disgusting, but I never make the choice to watch them or to seek them out. So, this assignment comes across my desk to review an action movie called The Night Comes For Us that was just released on Netflix and I thought, what’s the harm?
The harm is that this is the most disgustingly violent movie that I think I have ever seen. Think Saw, Hostel, and Evil Dead-Remake levels of gross and multiply it by ten. I was sitting in bed, covering my eyes and being forced to listen as it happened to me. After a few minutes, however, I found myself not being able to look away from the action. You see, even though it made my breakfast (Pop Tarts, because I’m an adult) threaten to revisit my mouth, The Night Comes For Us ended up being a blood-spurtingly great time.
[The Night Comes For Us is] disgusting, it’s brutal, and it’s completely amazing.
Directed by Timo Tjahjanto, The Night Comes For Us follows Ito (Joe Taslim), a member of an elite killing squad known as the Six Seas who receives a moment of clarity during his most recent mission. He has been a member of this squad for three years and has killed hundreds in the name of the Triads. This mission, however, hit him particularly hard, as he was tasked with slaughtering a whole village of people for the actions of a few. He goes through the mission as planned but turns on his crew when faced with the cowering image of the village’s last survivor, a little girl named Reina (Asha Kenyeri Bermudez). To save this girl from death, he has placed both of them on the top of the Triads’ hit list and in the crosshairs of Ito’s former best friend, Arian (Iko Uwais).
What comes next is a blood-soaked masterclass in breathless violence. Ito takes this girl to his former partners’ house where they offer to protect her while he goes to get some of the money that a man named “The Butcher” has stolen from him. The problem with this plan is that the Triads know all about it. They send a group to the Butcher’s place and another to his former partner Wisnu’s (Dimas Anggara) hideout. Countless bodies pile up as Wisnu and his friend Bobby (Zack Lee) defend their home from the gangs and as Ito destroys The Seven Butchers in their lair.
The fight between Ito and the Butchers is especially brutal due to its setting alone. Inside this giant room hangs racks of ribs and sides of beef. Ito fights around the meat, using saws, knives and hammers to turn the Butchers and their leader into nothing more than meat themselves. This fight dehumanizes everyone involved, breaking them down to body parts and blood. As Arian’s crew (members of the police) arrive to arrest Ito, they take the time to pump 100 rounds into the Butcher, completely destroying his body.
There are more people involved and more fights to be had, but I won’t get into it here. What I want to talk about is the choreography and all the pulse-pounding action that this film has. I have never experienced a film like this. I mean, how many times have you seen chunks of human flesh rain down on a character? Well, that happens twice in this film, and I loved it. Do you like badass women fighting each other to the death? Well, how about we see that, only one of them is holding in her intestines as she fights. When Ito decides to take the fight to his former friend and his crew, he single-handedly fights 40-50 men, stabbing, slashing and meat-hook-to-the-testicles-ing his way to the final fight. It’s disgusting, it’s brutal, and it’s completely amazing.
“…one of the most dynamic and exhilarating films of the year, and you definitely need to see it.”
The final fight between Ito and Arian is not only brutal, it’s genuinely beautiful. Arian is a lean, long-armed physical specimen who looks like he would rule Fashion Week. Ito is all business. His body was made for violence, and it is covered with the wound to prove it. Their fight is a balance of their two conflicting styles. Arian is fast. Lightning fast. He keeps Ito off-balance with a flurry of fists and feet. Ito, on the other hand, is a wrecking ball. He is there to destroy and will use anything around him to make that happen. Their fight goes on for what feels like an hour, but it’s one of the best hours you’ll have at the movies his year.
The only fault with the The Night Comes For Us, for me, was a section before the final showdown where everything kind of ground to a halt. Ito and Reina are safe at his home for a spell. His friends are dead, and he is waiting for whatever comes next. These scenes drag on for too long and cause the film to lose some of its momentum. I realize that sometimes silence is necessary to make the action feel more dynamic, but the fights in this film are already so alive that any break brings the whole film down. The only other thing that I didn’t like about the film has nothing to do with the film itself and everything to do with my personal understanding of the genre.
When Ito is fighting Arian’s crew in the warehouse, there are easily 40 men there, all with weapons. Why, then, do they insist on fighting this man one person at a time? Wouldn’t it make sense for a few of them to attack at once and not just for a cool spinning-around with a knife scene? Also, why do so many people set down their guns to fight with their hands or a blade? Like, shoot them. You have a gun and they don’t. Maybe you should take care of business and shoot them in the face.
Like I mentioned before, this is not my type of movie. I never seek these films out, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t great. Just because my sensibilities run to the supernatural side of horror doesn’t mean that the blood and guts brutality of The Night Comes For Us isn’t worth watching. It is. Horror and genre films are more subjective than almost any other species of film. What scares us or makes us squirm differs from person to person. So, what may have not been my cup of tea may be my neighbor’s favorite movie. That’s what makes movies like this great. Even if it is the exact opposite of what you normally watch, you can still tell that it is expertly made. Timo Tjahjanto has made one of the most dynamic and exhilarating films of the year, and you definitely need to see it.
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