Nightlight

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Nightlight Movie Poster Image
Nonsensical, annoying "lost in the woods" horror movie.
  • R
  • 2015
  • 85 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

References suicide by teens and/or twentysomethings, using the subject for a dramatic backstory. Briefly suggests that suicide affects everyone, not just one person. Also: Don't go in the scary woods at night.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The characters are barely even characters, much less role models.

Violence

Bloody spatters. Bloody eye sockets. Neck slicing with broken glass. Dead bodies. References to teen suicide. Cut finger on barbed wire. Foot caught in bear trap. Dangerous train dodge. Dead animal. Loud noises and jump-scares. Reference to rape. Bloody nose.

Sex

Brief naked male butt. Strong innuendo and sexual references ("horny," "blow jobs," "slutty chicks," "tramp stamps," "banging," Viagara, masturbation, etc.). Packages of condoms shown.

Language

Very strong language includes frequent use of "f--k," "s--t," "p---y," "motherf----r," "a--hole," "ass," "goddamn," "bitch," "boobs," "vagina," "damn," "slut," "douche," and "Jesus Christ" (as an exclamation).

Consumerism

References to Facebook, Abercrombie & Fitch, Gmail, Viagara, Real Housewives.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Nightlight is a "found footage" horror movie about young people lost in a haunted woods at night. It begins and ends with a video diary of a suicidal teen (or twentysomething), though it doesn't really address the issue of suicide in a substantial way. Language is the biggest issue, with the characters frequently using "f--k," "s--t," "p---y," and more. There's some blood (spatters, bloody eye sockets, a sliced neck, etc.), and characters seemingly die. There are also plenty of jump-scares and loud noises. A male character shows his naked butt, and there's strong sexual innuendo and sex talk during the movie's first third. All in all, this is a highly uninspired rip-off of The Blair Witch Project, and it's bad enough that most teens won't be interested.

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What's the story?

Shy Robin (Shelby Young) finally has a chance to hang out with a boy she likes, Ben (Mitch Hewer). Unfortunately, she's been invited for a game of "nightlight," which takes place in the scary woods -- which are rumored to have strange, evil forces living within, as well as strict rules to follow (never carve your name anywhere). The game begins; it's basically hide-and-seek with flashlights, and Robin soon finds herself lost and scared. She finds the stuck-up Nia (Chloe Bridges), who seems to be helplessly falling asleep and exhibiting other strange behaviors. Eventually, Robin's secret comes out; her best friend committed suicide in these woods, and she blames herself. Will the friends ever get out of the woods alive?

Is it any good?

Since its debut in 1999, The Blair Witch Project has inspired dozens of imitations and knock-offs, but perhaps none so close to the source -- and yet so uninspired -- as NIGHTLIGHT. Baffling and constantly distracting, the movie uses flashlights as the "cameras" that record all action and sound. If the light goes out, the picture and sound both cut out. Whenever something "scary" appears, it's either obscured or gone too fast, thanks to the swishing, jerking effect.

Heavy-handed music and sound effects provide a sudden, percussive "WHAM!" every time we're supposed to be scared. Not one image or idea in the movie hasn't been used before, including the "character with his back to the camera" bit and the "camera" flying and landing cockeyed on the floor. The characters barely exist, their behavior is puzzling, and their reasons for being in the woods ("let's play a scary game!") are ridiculous. Perhaps worse, the movie clumsily uses teen suicide as a running theme. It's lights out for this one.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Nightlight's violence. How much is shown and not shown? Does it feel gory or excessive, or does it generate suspense/dread?

  • Is the movie scary? What's the appeal of this kind of horror movie with unseen enemies? And what's the appeal of "found footage" horror movies? How are they different from other movies?

  • What does the movie have to say about teen or twentysomething suicide? Is it OK to bring up a subject like that and not address it in a meaningful way?

  • How is peer pressure depicted in the movie?

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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