Director: Danis Goulet
Writer: Danis Goulet
Starring: Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers, Brooklyn Letexier-Hart, Alex Tarrant, Amanda Plummber, Violet Nelson
Night Raiders is the directorial debut from Danis Goulet, after writing and directing many shorts. It’s a dystopian sci-fi film, that feels very at home in the YA genre with the likes of The Hunger Games and Divergent. It’s very entertaining and easy to watch.
Niska (Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers) has been protecting her daughter from the military government that has taken over and are rounding up children. After her daughter, Waseese (Brooklyn Letexier-Hart) is injured, Niska makes the decision to turn her in to the military, knowing that at the very least she will get the medical attention she deserves. Ten months later, Niska joins a local resistance group to save her daughter and the rest of the children that have been captured.
The world that Danis Goulet has created is really captivating and interesting. It feels like something that could be very real. You really want to know more about the world, almost instantly. Even by the end of the film, you feel like there’s still more left to discover. The story is pretty simple considering the world that is created around it. There’s brainwashing, drones that hunt for children and a civilisation that’s on the brink of destruction, but at its core the story is simply about a mother trying to do the best for her daughter. There’s a little bit of YA fiction such as The Hunger Games, with a little The Last of Us thrown in for good measure.
The pacing for the first hour is perfect. The introduction, leading up to Waseese’s abduction is around half an hour long, taking the time to set up the scene and really get you invested in what’s going on. The next half hour feels like it’s building up to even better things, and then you realise there’s only half an hour left, which just isn’t enough time to completely satisfy every plot strand. The final moments of Night Raiders feel very rushed and leaves you wanting more. It’s rare that a film feels like it would benefit from an extra half hour, but it would have been really nice if the ending had the same breathing room as the beginning and middle.
It’s the same with the characters. Niska isn’t developed very much beyond being someone who will do anything for her daughter. Waseese is an interesting character with some great moments, but in the end it all feels rushed. There’s a lot of anger under the surface when she finds out that her mother let her get taken, but that’s never really dealt with. It’s almost instant forgiveness. It feels like this is part one of a series that will go deeper into these characters, but the ending of the film feels finite.
Night Raiders has some flaws, but there is still a really interesting world to discover, with some tried and tested motivations that keep you hooked. It just feels like it’s over almost as soon as it began.
Signature Entertainment presents Night Raiders on Digital Platforms 6th December
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