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[#SXSW 2022 Review] Winona Ryder Hunts For Her Missing Boyfriend in Mystery Thriller GONE IN THE NIGHT

Eli Horowitz’s debut feature Gone In The Night (originally titled “The Cow“) is a quirky, contained mystery that features a surprisingly recognizable cast despite its humble indie DNA. Directed from a screenplay co-written by Horowitz and Matthew Derby, The Cow stars Winona Ryder (Stranger Things), Dermot Mulroney (Flesh and Bone), John Gallagher Jr. (10 Cloverfield Lane), Brianne Tju (The Blazing World), and Owen Teague (IT Chapter Two).

Celebrating its World Premiere at the 2022 SXSW Film Festival, Gone In The Night is a scrappy little picture about a middle-aged woman, deputizing herself in the hunt for her missing boyfriend. It’s a lot like any other mystery you might call a favorite but it tries to separate itself from the rest of the pack by building in an eye-popping reveal. That’s an essential move in all amateur sleuth films but Gone In The Night‘s is based more on shock value than solid, structured storytelling.

 

“…a quirky, contained mystery…”

 

Winona Ryder stars as Kath, a mid-40s divorcee just trying to enjoy a weekend getaway with her early 30s boyfriend Max (John Gallagher Jr.) at a remote cabin rental. That age gap between them has gotten bigger and bigger as the months have gone by and this vacation feels like a real make-it-or-break-it moment for them both. The problems start when their Airbnb is double-booked with another couple. The four agree to share the space for the night but when Kath wakes up in the morning, she discovers that Max has run off with Greta (Brianne Tju), the girlfriend of the other couple.

Kath doesn’t get much of an explanation from her fellow dumpee Al (Owen Teague), so she contacts Barlow, the owner of the cabin. Barlow, played by Dermot Mulroney, is a bit of a recluse but he agrees to help Kath look for Max. From there, Kath’s investigation takes them to a seedy underworld (the entrance door to an underground club) where things spiral out of control (she goes back to the cabin from the beginning), sending her careening toward danger (ah-ah, that would be a spoiler).

 

“…not your traditional Agatha Christie whodunit.”

 

What’s bound to grab your attention immediately is the film’s cast. It’s not every day you see a genre flick from an independent filmmaker with known names. However, the performances come across like high school drama exercises which is really surprising when you’re watching a cast of seasoned pros. It’s hard to say if the performer is to blame for the performance here though because it isn’t limited to any one person.

As a debut feature, Gone In The Night shows a lot of promise. Horowitz and Derby have crafted a mystery that evolves over time, never showing its full hand until it’s time to read ’em and weep. It loses a little steam while you wait for that grand finale reveal, and sadly, it doesn’t build that momentum back up. The finale is a chaotic showdown of venomous dialogue that doesn’t entirely deliver the big oh shit moment it’s been building toward. The rug is never really pulled out from underneath you, which is all you really take away from a good mystery, but that isn’t to say I had this movie figured out from frame one.

 

” …I doubt anyone would be able to predict the final 10 minutes after watching just the first 15.”

 

The Cow is not your traditional Agatha Christie whodunit. It’s more your Where In The World is My Kooky Silly Boyfriend? type. As the story unfolds, the twist becomes less and less of a surprise but I doubt anyone would be able to predict the final 10 minutes after watching just the first 15. As event movie watching, you may find yourself wishing for a more polished presentation but just as pure entertainment, it’s a perfectly acceptable 90-minute thriller you could watch with Mom. Heck, that could even be the tagline for the poster. Mom will have a good time, or your money back.

 

Eli Horowitz’s Gone In The Night (originally titled “The Cow“) celebrated its World Premiere at the 2022 SXSW Film Festival. Click HERE to follow our coverage of the festival and be sure to let us know what you would do if your significant other ran off with a complete stranger over on Twitter, Reddit, Facebook, and in the official Nightmare on Film Street Discord. Not a social media fan? Get more horror delivered straight to your inbox by joining the Neighbourhood Watch Newsletter.

 

Review: THE COW
TLDR
The Cow is not your traditional Agatha Christie whodunit but as a debut feature, it shows a lot of promise. As the story unfolds, the twist becomes less and less of a surprise but I doubt anyone would be able to predict the final 10 minutes after watching just the first 15. As event movie watching, you may find yourself wishing for a more polished presentation but just as pure entertainment, it's a perfectly acceptable 90-minute thriller.
Story
50
Performances
60
Characters
50
Mystery
60
55
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