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Acquainted with the Night [Tony Rayner, USA, 2018]

Tony Rayner’s Acquainted with the Night is dark thriller about family, money and betrayal. The film opens with young, married couple Anthony and Cassandra immediately after a morning of passionate sex (kindly treating the audience with more than any eyeful of both parties’ bare posteriors in the coital aftermath!). It is very early on that we discover, after an appointment with his therapist, that Anthony is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and hallucinatory visions of Cassandra, who is actually dead, having been murdered during a horrific home invasion by a hooded burglar.

Anthony is plagued by nightmares that replay the series of events during which he was also badly injured (a mark on his forehead acting as a corporeal reminder of the fateful incident). Every day it proves a deep struggle for him to leave the house and reconnect with society. The only person he has left to confide in is his markedly conspicuous and unsavoury brother Greyson, who happens to be in a substantial amount of financial debt. With both siblings experiencing the pressures of their respective problems, tensions between them intensify, culminating in a disturbing revelation that could profoundly alter the paths of both men.

Acquainted with the Night, despite is twists and turns, violence and drama, suffers from a largely predictable plot and the film would benefit from more inspired cinematography and tauter editing. Rayner does do well to create a moody and claustrophobic mise en scene, with much of the scenes taking place in the couple’s home. The wide shots and colour scheme in the scenes involving Cassandra – pale browns, earthy reds and bleached whites – create a feeling of openness and optimism, contrasting well with the more tense scenes that feature (brother), where the characters wear deep blues and greys against the black shadows of the night. Ultimately though, the story is loose and the production too ill-disciplined for this to be completely satisfying for the general audience.

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