Not much of a mystery thriller.
For a vehicle to feature such fine talents as Winona Ryder, John Gallagher, Jr., Owen Teague, Brianna Tju, and Dermot Mulroney, “Gone in the Night” barely does anything special with them. It contains the usual set-ups of teacher-student relationships, adultery, creepy people, and the woman trying to make sense of it all.
The teacher-student relationship consisted of the teacher Kath (Ryder) and her student Max (Gallagher, Jr.). “Consisted,” because he’s out of school, she’s about to call it quits, and they have moved on with their adulthood, which would explain the age difference between them.
The creepy people consist of Al (Teague) and Greta (Tju), and for some reason, they are occupying the cabin Kath and Max rented for the weekend. The former student could check his phone for the right address, but he says he doesn’t have to, for he knows it’s the right place. Al tells them they’re in the wrong place, but since they took a long drive from the city, Greta lets them stay the night. Both Al and Kath are uncomfortable, but they have nothing to do with each other.
Kath must play detective when she finds out Max has an affair with Greta, and enlists the help of the cabin owner Barlow (Mulroney) to track down the woman who stole her man. These two start a connection about where their lives are going in their adulthood, while flashbacks are provided to find out how things went down between Max and Greta. You know. The usually stuff of how they met and why they were at the cabin.
The best chemistry comes between Ryder and Mulroney, when they grasp each other’s realities. She’s not happy where she’s at in her life, while he’s trying to figure out how he can avoid a hereditary illness-one that killed his father. Their acting is good when together, but there’s not much between the other stars. Gallagher, Jr. is given a lackluster role, and even before the plot twist, he doesn’t do much with his character. And both Teague and Tju have, so far, had a good year at the movies by excelling with their respective pieces. Teague was in “Montana Story,” while Tju was in “Three Months.” But in “Gone in the Night,” they don’t deliver any good performances. In fact, they end up being more irritating as the story unfolds. They can do better than this.
There’s a plot twist I would give away, but I can’t. I can, however, say that it has potential, but it never seems to take off like how the best thrillers of recent memory have excelled and pushed our thoughts to the very limit.
The better artisan thriller to take place in a cabin, or an Airbnb would be Dave Franco’s directorial debut of “The Rental,” which actually had consequences and excellent performances.
“Gone in the Night” was directed and co-written by Eli Horowitz, who seems to be following in the footsteps of when Christopher Nolan made “Memento” with an ingenious puzzle, and how Steven Soderbergh has opened our minds to the dangers of his crime movies. But, unfortunately, Horowitz hams it with all the downsides I’ve mentioned. It could be a first-rate mystery thriller, if only it really had the kind of commitment that made Nolan and Soderbergh two of the best filmmakers around. Maybe next time.