Review: ‘The Sunlit Night’ glows from every angle.

Synopsis: The Sunlit Night follows an aspiring painter (Slate) from New York City to the farthest reaches of Arctic Norway for an assignment she hopes will invigorate her work and expand her horizons. In a remote village, among the locals, she meets a fellow New Yorker (Sharp), who has come in search of a proper Viking funeral only to find that the Chief (Galifianakis) is but a re-enactor from Cincinnati. The eclectic crew ranges from “home” to “lost,” within the extreme and dazzling landscape of the Far North. Under a sun that never quite sets, and the high standards of an unforgiving mentor, Frances must navigate between ambition, desire, obligation, and risk in order to find a way forward.

If you grew up with an art teacher mother as I did, this film will resonate with you immediately. I was given my own portfolio at the age of six. To be fair, I was drawing scale recreations from the 3 foot Georgia O’Keefe book that came with it. The birthday prior my parents got divorced. The Sunlit Night is a film made or me.

Through art references and voiceover we are privy to Frances’ inner thoughts. These moments are like diary entries. Color is like its own character. Frances is always wearing red. The barn is entirely different shades of yellow. The landscape is lush green. Viking reenactments are jewel and earth-toned while Yasha is in black. Specific paintings mirror each character, according to Frances. The film is a cinephile and art lover’s dream. Everyone that arrives is there to find something or perhaps, truly, to find themselves. The relationship between all the eccentric inhabitants of this small Norwegian town is what makes this film extra charming. Every shot in the film seems to glow. It’s simply breathtaking.

Jenny Slate is extraordinary. She always shines through her humor but here she has the opportunity to explore an even more nuanced vulnerability. Alex Sharp is tender and open. More and more of him everywhere, please. Fridtjov Såheim as Nils is a perfect balance of obstinate and passionate. He’s a great foil for Slate. While Zach Galifianakis is his adorably funny self in this, I wish we had more of him. As for Gillian Anderson, her appearance is brief but I’ll never turn down a chance to watch her effortlessness. The Sunlit Night has a glorious grace to it. It’s not a loud film, by any means, but what it does it does extremely well. Take a peek at the trailer below and watch the film on VOD starting tomorrow.

THE SUNLIT NIGHT will be released on VOD on July 17th from Quiver Distribution.

Review: ‘Relic’ is a terrifying look at inevitability.

A daughter, mother, and grandmother are haunted by a manifestation of dementia that consumes their family’s home.

The terror begins from the very first scene. Blink and you’ll miss the clues laid out from the getgo. Relic crawls under your skin and chills you to the bone. The script is skillfully crafted. Not only are you inside a haunted house story but you’re also tangled up in family trauma and dementia. As someone whose grandmother passed this spring, as someone who watched her mental and physical deterioration for years from Alzheimer’s, this film felt personal and all the more upsetting. For those who have had a relative with the disease, you’re constantly asking yourself, “Do I see traces of it in my Mother? My Father? Will I feel just as helpless in the future?” Relic is an allegory that builds upon fear, much akin to Jennifer Kent’s The Babadook. If you understood the totality of that film, you’ll be spellbound once you experience this one. 

Emily Mortimer, Bella Heathcote, and Robyn Nevin are phenomenal. Three generations of women expose themselves to give us some of the most epic horror performances since Toni Collette in Hereditary, Lupita Nyong’o in Us, and Riley Keough in The Lodge. The specificity to age and stage development is obviously there but it the reaction to trauma both unlying and on the surface that is played with precision.  This story, outside of the horror aspect, will resonate with so many, regardless of generation. The cinematographer coupled with the story leaves so many things unanswered. I actually would love a sequel… or even a prequel. Director-writer Natalie Erika James and co-writer Christian White, they have given the viewing audience an exceptionally frightening masterpiece. Very few films still cause me to cover my eyes. Though I wished I had, I could not pull my attention from the screen. Brilliant performances, dark and lush cinematography, and alarmingly visceral storytelling make Relic completely hypnotic. It will, no doubt, paralyze you with fears beyond your understanding.

AVAILABLE EVERYWHERE JULY 10 

(SELECT THEATERS, DRIVE-INS & DIGITAL/VOD)

Director: Natalie Erika James

Writers: Natalie Erika James and Christian White

Starring: Emily Mortimer, Bella Heathcote, Robyn Nevin

Producers: Anna McLeish, Sarah Shaw, Jake Gyllenhaal, Riva Marker

Executive Producers: Joe Russo, Anthony Russo, Mike Larocca, Todd Makurath, Wang Zhongjun, Wang Zhonglei, Hu Junyi

Cinematographer: Charlie Sarroff

Distributor: IFC Midnight

Release Date: July 10, 2020 In Theaters and also available On Demand / Digital Rental