The Yellow Night (Brazilian Grind Art Horror)


Stop me if you’ve heard this: a group of teenagers travels to an isolated island for a debauched graduation party weekend. Disregarding oblique warnings from vaguely menacing locals, they arrive at one of the teens’ family estate. When someone goes missing, it becomes evident that something terrifying lurks in the shadows enshrouding the island. Despite the setup that launched a thousand teen slashers (it even goes full Evil Dead with the narrated “quantum photography” experiments of one character’s scientist grandfather), The Yellow Night quickly announces its intention to subvert easy grindhouse tropes and take a hard left toward the arthouse. It’s the same strategy used by Belgian filmmaking duo Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani (Amer): take well-worn B-movie elements and mutate them into an inscrutable art film.


Inscrutable art films come in two flavors: some present as jigsaw puzzles, and some as abstract paintings. The former category implies that appreciation hinges on the viewer being smart enough to decode it. In the latter category, there’s nothing to decode; either you appreciate the film as a sequence of light and shadow, color and sound, or you don’t. Since this is my first review, I’d like to introduce myself by saying fuck jigsaw puzzle movies. A film that keeps its audience at arm’s length unless they “get it” fails as entertainment. Thus, I’m happy to report that The Yellow Night dodges this pitfall and lands in the abstract painting category. It’s my theory that all teen horror films are about adolescence itself: they either fear its violence or mourn its loss. As The Yellow Night’s narrative gradually dissolves into a pure mood piece, it becomes a surreal, bloodless answer to 2014’s It Follows: teens on the beachhead of adulthood, staring into the ineffable dark that blankets the ocean.


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Written by Cthulen, Dead Dreamer

The Yellow Night (2019)
Ramon Porto Mota
4 / 5