‘Night Has Come’ Review: A Haunting Portrait of End Times Told Through Stock Footage [Fantastic Fest 2019]

/Film | 9/20/2019 | Chris Evangelista
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If Terrence Malick and Franz Kafka decided to get married, and then adopted an old wooden crate full of reels of stock footage as their baby, that offspring would look something like Night Has Come. Director Peter Van Goethem has cut together a plethora of Royal Belgian Film Archive stock footage to tell the story of a dystopian society plagued with a memory-erasing virus. Making use of overly poetic, often vague narration, Night Has Come unfolds like a memory of a fever dream, burning its way through your brain as you drift in and out of consciousness.

“Life itself is a disease that can be treated.” So says the mysterious narrator of Night Has Come, Peter Van Goethem’s curious, haunting stock footage extravaganza. The imagery assembled here seems at once related and completely unconnected. Black and white scenes of idyllic families at a beach. Rubble of bombed-out cities. Riots of men with unlit cigarettes clenched between their teeth. Couples strolling hand-in-hand down pathways, out of focus. Museum guards strolling through completely empty buildings, passing exhibits of taxidermy. Taken on their own, these images are innocuous, even humdrum.

Van - Goethem - Air - Narrator - Close-up

But as assembled by Van Goethem, they take on an ominous, often horrifying air. Our narrator is represented in extreme close-up by footage of an elderly man, his craggy face a roadmap of age, as lined and cracked as a dry desert. We’re meant to believe this is the man talking to us, although we never see him open his mouth. He simply stares off into some unknown source of light, a look of unrelenting sadness in his dark eyes.

Through his words, we learn of a virus that robs people of their memories. The very lives of people everywhere are being stolen; eradicated; evaporated. Where did the virus come from? Was it engineered by the...
(Excerpt) Read more at: /Film
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