Night and a Switchblade
by M. Faust
Little Red Booking’s irregularly scheduled but infinitely oddball film series at Squeaky Wheel continues next week with this unsettling horror movie that starts out like David Lynch before wandering into territory more familiar to fans of Matthew Barney and 1990’s Begotten (always a safe reference to drop, given how few people have ever seen E. Elias Merhige’s indescribable debut feature).
The setting is a small Vermont town, apparently in the 1950s. A long night brings newbie Sandie Po (Lloyd Eddings) into conflict with local badass Chas Bergeron (Jason Stanley) and his gang the Sugar Boys, three punks in animal masks. He makes a new friend and picks up a pair of bored girls at a local dance featuring Violet and the Vettes (a.k.a. Brookyn’s Color War, who supplied the film’s dreamy, reverby soundtrack). The night lands them deep in the woods at a strange house, where the true nature of the Sugar Boys is revealed. Sort of.
At a bit over two hours, Night and a Switchblade is way longer than it needs to be, but you can’t deny the effect of the long takes featuring inexplicably gruesome rites. Firsttime filmmaker Ben Finer also designed the masks worn by various characters, and they’re genuinely creepy, especially given the excellent nighttime cinematography by Blake Williams. What does it all mean? Damned if I know, but Finer will be present at the screening, so ask him.
Night and a Switchblade will be screened at Squeaky Wheel on Thursday, March 6 at 7pm
Watch the trailer for Night and a Switchblade
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