I feel like this type of film filmed only at night should have a sub-genre name. Mort de Nuit perhaps? Or film obscurité? It’s a work in progress. In all seriousness, there is some kinda magical quality to a film that takes place in one night. Maybe it’s the tension or perhaps the night gives it a bit of mystique – who knows. But I am going to give you the list probably no one asked for. These will cover a variety of genres, not focusing too much on horror where you can find an abundance of this type – not that is a bad thing at all. I’m not being strict with this list, if the majority is at night, it is allowed. Apologies to the night purists out there.
Starring Tom Cruise, unusually as the villain in this film, as a hitman making his rounds, with Jamie Foxx as the unwitting cab driver turned hostage who is forced to drive him around. This is probably one of the few films I would recommend of Tom Cruise’s later years. He is perfect as a villain, a role I think he should take on again.
Not only is Die Hard a Christmas film but it is often overlooked that it is filmed completely at night. Following John McClane, a New York detective visiting his estranged wife at a Christmas party, he finds himself the only hero willing to stop the terrorist takeover of Nakatomi Plaza.
Strange Days is not a film for the faint of heart at all. It follows a former LAPD cop turned marketeer of recordings that allow the user to experience the recorder’s memories and physical sensations. Soon after purchasing a significant recording, Lenny uncovers a conspiracy surrounding the murder of a prostitute. There is a lot of sexual violence in this film but I believe it is still worth a watch.
This is a romance film that follows an American man and a French woman who meet on a train to Vienna and spend the night walking and talking together. It is a very minimalistic film but it is an engaging film that you won’t want to stop. As they do not believe they will ever see each other again, there is a frankness to their short love affair.
Escape from New York
Set in the future, America has become completely crime-ridden and has converted the island of Manhattan into a maximum-security prison. The story follows Snake Plissken, an ex-soldier and current prisoner, who is given 24 hours before he will be terminated – to infiltrate Manhattan to retrieve the president who is being held captive by a crime boss.
A film by David Fincher, that follows a mother and daughter whose home is invaded by burglars. As the title suggests, they end up in the panic room just before the burglars catch them. What follows is a cat and mouse game, as the burglars try to force out the panic room’s occupants.
30 days of Night
Based on the comic book by the same title, set in Barrow, Alaska that experiences a solid month of darkness every year. However, one year, the residents that have stayed behind are besieged by vampires. The citizens must find a way to survive while hiding in various locations across the town until the sun reappears.
Attack the Block
Attack the Block follows a teenage street gang who become the targets of an alien invasion. Set on Guy Fawkes Night in a council estate in South London, it follows Moses (played by John Boyega), who unwittingly becomes the focus of the savage invasion after killing one of the aliens when it first arrives and attacks him.
Nightcrawler follows a photographer (or a stringer) who records violent crime and sells it to the local news station. However, Lou, the protagonist of this film is quite unethical in his attempts to get the perfect recording that would repulse most people.
Game Night is an action-comedy where a group of friends becomes involved in a real-life mystery when one of their friends is kidnapped during their regular game nights. An interesting fact about this is that one of the directors is John Francis Daley, who some you may know as the character Sweets on the TV show Bones.
Now, this has spawned many sequel films and a TV show, but I like the simplicity of the original Purge film. If you don’t know the plot, all crime is allowed for a 12 hours. So of course, people come to kill their wealthy neighbours. Murder is quite an easy choice of crime to show in a film but it is entertaining nonetheless.
If you want to hear my thoughts about this film, you can read my full review of 21 Bridges. But to give a brief summary, after a drug heist goes very wrong resulting in several cops dead or injured, a city-wide manhunt begins in Manhattan with – you guessed it – 21 bridges being closed. The main protagonist has only until 5 am to catch the cop killers, but in his pursuit, he realizes there may be more at play than it first seems.
Ready or Not
Slightly similar to Game Night, it starts with what seems like an innocent game. Grace, the newly-wed bride must participate in her new family’s long-held tradition of picking a game from a puzzle box, due to an old ancestral deal that secured the Le Domas’ fortune. Unfortunately for her and everyone involved, she picks hide-and-seek which is a game we all know and love but with a much more sinister tone.
I just watched this recently, mainly because I am in love with Thomas Jane, who we all know from his great role in The Expanse. It also features Luke Kleintank from The Man in the High Castle. The film follows a veteran cop and a rookie on his first day on the job through a night on patrol. Now with recent events in America, this was a particularly hard film to watch in certain points. But I would say it shows the psychology of how police view all people in America, which isn’t pretty.
So there you go my collection of films set at night. Please feel free to share any suggestions of film obscurité in the comments.