Night Comes On

Movie review by
Jennifer Green, Common Sense Media
Night Comes On Movie Poster Image
Well-acted teen drama has dark themes, glimmers of hope.
  • R
  • 2018
  • 86 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

It's possible, though not by any means simple, to survive even the most traumatic of childhoods through grit, determination, purpose, and, most importantly, the support of a loved one.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Angel feels responsible for Abby, even though she continually shirks taking care of her. She's considering committing a murderous act of vengeance. Abby sells prescription drugs and uses the money to bribe her foster parent, but she maintains a youthful optimism. A man murdered his wife and now feels sorry. Another man exchanges a gun for sex with a teenage girl. Adults in authority positions treat kids callously.

Violence

John killed his wife by hitting her against the bathroom wall, a scene not shown, though we do see the woman's legs slumped over the side of a bathtub. Angel buys a gun she plans to use to avenge her mother's death. Abby accidentally shoots the gun when she finds it. Angel was said to have been molested by a foster caretaker in the past.

Sex

A man who is the father of a teenage girl offers to exchange a gun for sex with another teenage girl, putting his hand down her pants. In another scene, he seems to have gotten his way when she emerges from his car with the gun. Abby gets her first period ever, and Angel helps her attach a stolen maxi-pad to her underwear in a public bathroom stall.

Language

"D--k." "Ass." "A--hole." "F--k." "S--t." "Bitches." "Cooch." "Goddamn."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Elementary-aged children smoke weed. Abby says she's selling her prescription medications to give money to her foster parent and keep her happy. Angel advises Abby not to take the medications, which she says the foster parents give to keep kids numb to their circumstances. Angel's ex-girlfriend sells weed.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Night Comes On is a sensitive film that tackles some very dark themes, but ends in a surprisingly hopeful way. The life experiences the teenage Angel and her younger sister Abby have had to endure could shock some -- murder, molestation, drugs, foster parents with nefarious intentions, hardhearted probation officers, and more. It's no wonder Angel, angry and detached, begins plotting revenge the moment she gets out of juvenile detention, trading sex for a handgun. The world, and especially adults, seem out to stop her from accomplishing anything positive. But the intelligent and bubbly Abby somehow maintains her youthful optimism and sociability, holding out hope Angel will care for her -- as she does in a scene where Abby gets her first period and Angel steals a maxi-pad and shows her how to use it. Abby is nobody's fool: she sells her prescription medications to buy off some goodwill from her foster parent and she's already smoking weed. Still, she longs for a stable home life and doesn't like it when Angel uses vulgar language like "cooch." Words like "d--k," "ass," "a--hole," "f--k," "s--t," "bitches," and "goddamn" are par for the course in Angel's world.

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What's the story?

Angel (Dominique Fishback) has just been released from juvenile detention on the eve of her 18th birthday when NIGHT COMES ON begins. Her first stop after release is her cellmate's father's house, where she plans to buy a gun and barely escapes having to pay for it with sexual favors -- for the time being. We soon learn she plans to use the gun to avenge her mother's murder. To do that, she'll need to reunite with her much younger sister, Abby (Tatum Marilyn Hall), who is hoping Angel will save her from a terrible foster setting. The two girls take a trip together, each with her own ulterior motive, and Angel finds she'll have to choose between avenging her traumatic past or constructing her -- and Abby's -- future.

Is it any good?

Actress Jordana Spiro's impressive first feature as a director offers a thoughtful and unhurried portrayal of a young woman at a critical crossroads in her life. Night Comes On deftly guides us into a dark world where kids struggle to get by despite mistreatment or neglect by adults. Spiro drops in scenes of normalcy seen through 18-year-old Angel's eyes, of what life could be like for a girl her age, and keeps coming back to the recurring sound of waves crashing, evoking a sole positive memory for Angel. Spiro also plays with camera angles in key scenes and slow motion sequences as a transition device. These techniques threaten to call too much attention to themselves, but ultimately they work to support the development of Angel's character.

Lead actress Fishback (who also stars in Netflix's Project Power) gives a convincing and sensitive performance as a teenager teetering between childhood and adulthood, between giving in to the negative forces holding her back or starting to piece her life together. When she smiles for possibly the first time in the movie and lets her hair down during a climactic scene, we realize just how tightly wound up and scarred her Angel is. We breathe a sigh of relief along with her, short-lived as it turns out. That's good storytelling, buoyed by perceptive acting.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the portrayal of the juvenile detention and foster care systems in Night Comes On. Does either girl seem to be getting helpful support or care? How do you think being a part of these systems can condition a child's or teenager's outlook and possibilities in life?

  • This film ends in a way that leaves it up to the viewer to interpret what will happen next for Angel and Abby. What do you imagine for their future?

  • How does the film create suspense in certain scenes?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love family tales

Themes & Topics

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