Night Vision (1987)
6/10
A SOV oddity that aims higher than you think it would
3 August 2014
Stumbled upon this on On Demand, and was intrigued: NIGHT VISION is an '80s horror I'd never even heard of (which means it's REAL obscure) and it was shot and set in Colorado, where I've lived all my life. So, obviously, I watched it, and was slightly impressed and more-than-slightly dumbfounded.

It's about a shy, whiny writer from Kansas that moves to the seedy underbelly of Denver to get story ideas. He makes friends with a criminal-type named Vinny, who soon gifts him a VCR that once belonged to a scary cult. The VCR leaves Mr. Kansas able to write scary, violent short stories that end up coming true. Oh, and he works at a video store for some reason.

So, to clarify, many of you looking at '80s C-horror movies on IMDb may be looking for so-bad-it's-funny material, and NIGHT VISION really won't be your cup of tea. There's sporadic laughs, but it's actually very slow-moving, nothing much really happens, it completely shies away from gore and nudity, and it's not really even a horror movie. Perhaps the funniest thing about the film is its portrayal of Denver as the seediest, most crime-ridden city in the world, one that is seemingly physically impossible NOT to get robbed, stalked or killed while walking its streets. Even as a current resident that knows this is far from the truth, NIGHT VISION made me want to get the hell out of this black hole of a city.

But no, this is not Bad Movie Night material. Instead, it's a slow-burn oddity that aims more to be a Cronenberg or Lynch-style psychological thriller than a gory cheesefest. It never completely hits the mark, but it does manage to sustain a weird, slightly unsettling atmosphere (mostly due to its home-movie qualities) and is compulsively watchable. Almost nothing happened in its 100-minute running time, but I still found myself intrigued by NIGHT VISION from start to finish.

I'm not sure whether to call the main actor horrible or great; he's whiny and annoying the entire time, but you do get an air of sociopathy about him. One reviewer here compares him in looks to David Byrne, but I got more of an Ian Curtis vibe. He's really not good at all, but he adds to the odd atmosphere of the film. But the ending is really effective, muddling the plot-line even more than it previously was and leaving the film completely without answers. It worked surprisingly well.

I can't really recommend NIGHT VISION to most people and it's certainly not an unjustly forgotten classic, but viewers in the mood for something off the beaten path and zero-budget might find something to like here.
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