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Parents' Guide to

Fear the Night

By Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 17+

Blunt, primal home-invasion thriller with powerful women.

Movie NR 2023 92 minutes
Fear the Night Movie Poster: Tess (Maggie Q) looks at the camera defiantly, small scratches on her face and rips in her clothing, while holding some kind of weapon

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Bare-bones and somewhat simplistic, Neil LaBute's home-invasion thriller is still sharply effective, touching on themes of violence and female empowerment in a blunt, primal manner. Since the beginning of his career, LaBute has explored the more toxic side of male-female interactions, but with Fear the Night, as in House of Darkness, he uses genre to make his point with more brute force. He spends a little time setting up the characters' sisterly dynamic, as well as Tess's ever-alert paranoia and hair-trigger defense mechanisms, before the first sudden violence occurs.

The attacks are swift and cruel, never sustained fights meant for thrills. We're meant to feel the brutality here. Maggie Q plays Tess like a coiled spring, but with a hint of weariness. She really wants to relax and be human, but -- like Jamie Lee Curtis's older Laurie Strode in Halloween -- she can't let her guard down. The men here are all one-dimensional brutes, viewing women as inferior objects to terrorize or conquer. One of the most potent scenes is the movie's end coda, in which a male sheriff listens to -- and scornfully disbelieves -- Tess's story. What, the movie seems to be asking, has really changed? Fear the Night isn't subtle, but it packs a punch.

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