By midlandsmovies, Sep 15 2018 04:28PM
Midlands Review - The Night They Crashed Here
Directed by Jack Veasey
“It was just another normal day” proclaims a voice at the start of new sci-fi drama The Night They Crashed Here, but this new short from Jack Veasey moves very quickly away from any sense of “normal” to much more sinister themes.
Filmed in early 2018 around Coventry and from the director of Tony, George Wills stars as Paul Jones who introduces himself via a Bogart-like voiceover. However his interviews are the product of his press reporter credentials rather than those of a private detective. The film is entirely shot in black and white and along with the voiceover, the noir influences can be seen from the start including the brick wall motifs and the low-key lighting.
As Jones exits his vehicle after a particularly strong storm, he stands against a cloudy sky and as great tension building noise reaches a crescendo he witnesses strange lightning which bolts to the earth. This eerie phenomenon is excellently realised and the filmmaker’s insistence on holding on the shot an agonisingly long time was just perfect to keep the viewer on edge.
The inventive and creative special effects compliment the very well-lit locations and the film echoes Sin City at times - but here the director has achieved his look without green screen. And the stark contrasting lighting lets the shadows do a lot of the work to create a sense of mystery and intrigue. As Jones arrives at the landing site, he spies a mysterious pod in the rubble and removes a strange device which appears to infect him when the deceased alien arm originally holding it shocks it back into life.
About half way through the music changes to a slightly odd glockenspiel style ditty which although evoked the Raymond Chandler-based flicks of the 40s seemed at odds with the sci-fi direction of the plot. Although no doubt intentional this clash between the old and new became a bit of a concern throughout.
The voice from Jones is sadly a little monotone too and could have used a bit more energy or verve in the delivery of the dialogue. The importance of one line is no different to any other which was unfortunately a little bland. Very soon after, a couple of fellow reporters arrive (Andre Pierre as Smith and Becki Lloyd as Williams) and they discuss the dead body. With the possibility of a high-paying scoop about an extra-terrestrial, they plan to claim the discovery as their own. Which will be to the detriment of Jones who they need out the way.
When Jones is approached from behind by Smith, he lashes out in surprise and we start to get hints that he may be succumbing to an alien infection as his ears bleed and his emotions drain. The tale twists again as another morally ambiguous deal is suggested between Smith and Jones to get rid of Williams. And whilst Smith plays a con on both sides to cover his intentions, Jones is hiding a lot more from them both.
The music changes once more at the film’s end – echoing a melodramatic silent film score of sorts – and the short again hints to its retro influences. Like a good noir, there are double crosses and dark realisations that materialise towards it conclusion. And on a technical level, the film uses noir traits like unbalanced compositions, dramatic shadows and skewed shots as well as, literally, an ‘alienated’ protagonist.
In conclusion, looking back with its music and style but forward with its fantastic effects and sci-fi approach, The Night They Crashed Here is an interesting experiment to mix two unlikely genres. And whilst not always delivering the cohesion needed to blend old and new influences, has enough going for it to make it an inventive hardboiled slice of noir and science fiction.