Plot: Michael Williams (Richard Johnson) is a historian preparing for the biggest opportunity of his career, a chance to showcase his research on television. His young daughter Emily (Nicole Elmi) will travel with him, as will his assistant Jill, who happens to have an attraction to her boss. Emily has been having some horrific nightmares of late, which is no surprise since she is still coping with the loss of her mother, who perished in a fiery blaze. Just before they embark, Emily finds a unique medallion that belonged to her mother and with her father’s permission, she begins to wear it and even develops a strong connection with the item. Once the trio arrives, Michael meets his liaison Joanna (Joanna Cassidy) and there are instant sparks between the two, which soon develop into passion. At the same time, Emily’s nightmares intensify and her behavior becomes more erratic and dangerous. When things take a lethal turn, it becomes clear a dark force must involved…
Entertainment Value: The Exorcist spawned numerous clones, some wild and over the top, others more reserved and atmospheric. Night Child falls into the latter category, which could be good or bad, depending on your preferences. The movie is slow and leans on mood over violence or wild moments, so if you’re more into outlandish possession tales, this one doesn’t follow that guideline. The first half of Night Child has a very deliberate pace and while that helps build atmosphere, it can feel a tad dull in some moments. At the same time, the performances are quite good and help alleviate some of that, but the pace is certainly slow for a while. Once Emily starts to feel the compulsion of the medallion, things pick up, but even then, don’t expect some outrageous, over the top experience. I’m conflicted on this one because it is a well made movie, but it just feels so slow and dull at times. I do think it works as an effective slow burn chiller, but there’s just not enough actual entertainment. I like the performances, the story, and the mood, but it just drags too much. Nicole Elmi is terrific as Emily, carrying her scenes well, while Richard Johnson and Joanna Cassidy also hand in solid efforts. If you appreciate slow, mood driven dramas, Night Child is right up your alley. But don’t come in expecting a horror movie or even a thriller.
A couple of sex scenes reveal breasts and some other skin, but they’re fairly tame so don’t count on copious flesh here. One minor scene of bloodshed, but it is non graphic and just shows some crimson on a blade. So not enough to score one point, just a brief flash of some aftermath blood. The lack of blood isn’t really an issue however, as this is clearly more of a psychological drama than horror movie. The mood supports a more subtle approach to the deaths, so it makes sense. I do wish those deaths were more creative or kinetic, even without bloodshed, so no such luck. The dialogue is well written, but is standard stuff and not memorable in the least. This is one of the rare possessed kids movies that doesn’t involve colorful, outlandish dialogue from the child, but again, the tone here is so reserved, the lack of craziness fits. I do think the silly faces Emily makes add a touch of wackiness, but even so, Night Child has no real insanity on showcase even in its few active sequences. This one remains rooted in drama/mystery conventions and doesn’t get wild at all.
Overall Insanity: 0/10