Danny (Grant Lancaster) is trying to leave behind a life of crime in L.A. by relocating himself to upstate New York City. However, easy cash is hard to pass by and life's just not quite as satisfying with the 9-to-5 routine. After he attempts to rob one of the houses he landscapes for, he ends up in an unusual partnership with the owner's son, Liam (Brooks Russell) and before long the two recruit the volatile Kit Viper (Corey Scott Rutledge) for what's supposed to be an easy score at an isolated mansion with an elderly easy mark.
Of course, it's never quite that easy.
What should have been an easy score turns into quite a bit more with multiple dead and what appears to be a worthless cloak the only item successfully taken from the home. Soon, Kit catches on to the truth about this cloak and soon all three young men are fighting for their lives against local drug kingpins and other supernatural forces.
In short, The Blacklight is bonkers.
The Blacklight is a darkly comical, action-packed, supernatural-tinged crime thriller that takes a seemingly simple story and makes it complex before deciding to do a fast jog through a cinematic labyrinth. Simultaneously absurd and electrifying, The Blacklight works largely on the strength of the inventive script by Brooks Russell and director Nick Snow and an ensemble cast that seems to completely get the rhythm necessary to pull this whole thing off.
The ensemble cast here is uniformly strong, though I must confess that I was completely blown away by Richard Templeton's turn as Lucky, a childhood friend of Danny's who worked alongside him in his L.A. days who now very well may be his worst enemy. Templeton is simply extraordinary here, possessing a Patrick Bateman-style swagger that is simultaneously charismatic, more than a little insane, and quite often downright frightening. This is the kind of performance that should have Hollywood knocking on Templeton's door.
This is not to say that the rest of the ensemble is shabby. Far from it. Brooks Russell shines as Liam, a spoiled rich kid who gets caught up in the excitement before realizing he's in way over his head. Grant Lancaster convinces as Danny, almost the normal one here except for the fact that, well, he's not quite normal. Corey Scott Rutledge practically steals every scene he's in as the volatile Kit Viper, whose initial actions largely set the stage for everything that unfolds in the just over two-hour film. Among the supporting players, kudos must also be given to Brad Stuart as the uber creepy Gregor, the marvelous Samantha Aneson as Hannah, and Victor Verhaeghe as Gabe Giallo.
And yes, I love that there's a character named Giallo. If you don't understand the reference, look it up.
D.P. Luis Alarcon's lensing is electrifying throughout and Ryan McTear's original music sets a terrific atmosphere for the film.
The Blacklight is a top-notch indie thriller. It's a film that is so complex it shouldn't work.
While you've likely seen a film with similar themes before, seldom have you ever seen a film that dips its cinematic toes into so many genres successfully and comes out better for it all in the end. Nick Snow's directorial work is disciplined and inspired and he's assembled the perfect ensemble cast to bring this all to life. In the end, The Blacklight is a fierce, entertaining, and captivatingly bonkers cinematic experience.
Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic