What does it mean when you start having premonitions about murders? No, I’m not talking about the plot of ‘Malignant.’ Or when you start having insomnia and suspect you might be living a double life? No, I’m also not talking about the premise of ‘Fight Club.’ I’m talking about a movie that steals its ideas from more successful films and mashes them together to create the mess that is ‘Nightshade.’
‘Nightshade’ opens on Randy Bell (Jason Patric) as he attempts to bury his recently murdered wife. While attempting to dispose of the evidence, his young daughter happens across the grisly scene, but instead of running scared, she darts out across the lawn and picks up a book lying next to her mother’s body.
The cold open ends as Bell attempts to smash down the door in pursuit of his daughter and the mysterious book.
Following this scene, we are introduced to Detective Ben Hays (Lou Ferrigno Jr.) who, we learn, has been suffering from a bout of insomnia presumably brought on by the current homicide case he’s working.
To help with his insomnia, Ben agrees to see Dr. Collins (Dina Meyer), a psychiatrist who convinces him to try hypnotherapy.
His situation, however, turns from bad to worse as Ben starts having visions of murders – all cases that appear to share eerie similarities to the one he’s been investigating.
As Ben loses his grip on reality, his wife Lucy (Kenzie Dalton) and partner Detective Beckett (B.J. Britt) begin to suspect that there may be more to Ben than he is letting on.
‘Nightshade’ suffers early on from the “seen it too many times before” trope: the protagonist who has unexplained premonitions of murder scenes and finds themselves waking up in strange places without knowing how they got there. This, of course, leaves one with the assumption that this individual is the killer without them realizing it.
To its credit, ‘Nightshade’ attempts to differentiate itself by working to establish our character’s innocence and leaves you wondering if there are more sinister forces at play here.
But it isn’t long until you are once again faced with the same notion that Ben is the killer. This is expressed through the fact that Ben keeps slipping further into madness and finds himself waking up in even more incriminating situations just as a recent string of murders occurs.
Working to continue to prove his innocence, Ben discovers a startling revelation that connects him to the victims, leaving him to wonder if he hasn’t been an unwilling pawn in a game.
Warning Spoliers Below
The third act of ‘Nightshade’ features a twist that reveals that the young girl from the cold open was Lucy, and the mysterious book that belonged to her mother has allowed her to transfer her conscience into Ben’s body in order to exact her revenge for the death of her mother and to punish those who manage to slip through the cracks of the legal system, like her father.
Here, ‘Nightshade’ overplayed its hand with the full-on possession concept. The idea that his wife is able to transfer her consciousness into his body is too far-fetched to get behind.
Instead of incorporating this full-on possession aspect into the movie, it would have been better to incorporate more of the under-utilized concept of voodoo, a concept that is only briefly hinted at by the momentary glimpses of a voodoo doll on screen. The notion of her casting a spell and forcing Ben to commit these acts under a voodoo trance would have been a more original and, dare I say, more plausible explanation than what we got.
On a scale of 1-5 stars, I give this movie 2 stars.
‘Nightshade’ tried to take an old story and mold it into something new and original but, in the end, the story never managed to catch our attention. This is also largely due to the one-dimensional characters that made it impossible to care about anything that was happening on screen.
‘Nightshade’ stars Lou Ferrigno Jr. as Detective Ben Hays, Dina Meyer as Dr. Amy Collins, Jason Patric as Randy Bell, Kenzie Dalton as Lucy Hays, B.J. Britt as Detective Beckett, James Duval as Officer Camello, Tim Russ as Captain Burns, Eryn Rea as Elizabeth Bell, Jaime Gallagher as Dawn, Josie M. Parker as young Lucy, Chris Levine as Officer Price, and Nick Sarando as Carlos.
I have come here to chew bubblegum and write horror, and I’m all out of bubblegum.
Senior Editor at Horror Facts