Director: Michael Cristofer
Cast: Tye Sheridan, Ana de Armas, John Leguizamo
Release Date: February 21, 2020 (Select Theaters & On-Demand)
A Review By: Kevin Lovell
Film Rating: 8/10
While on duty, a young, socially challenged hotel clerk (Tye Sheridan) witnesses a murder in one of the rooms but his suspicious actions land him as the lead detective’s (John Leguizamo) number one suspect.
‘The Night Clerk’ accompanies socially challenged Bart (Sheridan) who works the late night shift as a local hotel clerk and spends his time studying people through hidden cameras placed throughout the hotel rooms in order to practice how to better interact with them. But when his camera catches a woman’s murder, he races to the scene and ends up contaminating the crime scene which combined with his odd behavior leads the detective in charge of the case to begin suspecting Bart of the crime.
Written and directed by Michael Cristofer (Original Sin, Body Shots) who does a great job at the helm of ‘The Night Clerk’ guiding along the tension, drama and uncertainty with passion and style. The film also benefits a great deal from a cast which features numerous talented individuals and includes Tye Sheridan (Ready Player One), Ana de Armas (Knives Out), John Leguizamo (John Wick), Johnathon Schaech (Jackals) and Helen Hunt (I See You), along with more, nearly all providing highly capable and solid performances in each of their respective roles. Although Sheridan still has no trouble consistently stealing the show with his stellar portrayal of our troubled lead.
‘The Night Clerk’ is a refreshingly original dramatic thriller that captivates the viewer and takes you for an emotional and often fairly tense journey into uncertainty. We join one man’s struggle to try and do the right thing albeit being unable to interact with people in what may be considered a socially acceptable manner. Tye Sheridan easily steals the show here with his unforgettable portrayal of our lead Bart, capturing this caring, yet uncertain man on the spectrum with a passionate and fittingly awkward style that’s remarkable in itself to behold; everything from his eyes jumping back and forth as he tries to make eye contact but can’t quite manage, to his simple mannerisms and even the way he carries himself when merely walking along. The character may do some questionable things such as recording hotel guests without their knowledge, yet at the same time we can’t help but relate with and feel for him as it becomes clear that while his actions may be wrong, his intentions are certainly never sinister.
With the original premise that believe it or not actually isn’t based on a previous film, book or other property (almost a rarity these days sadly) and the capable guidance of director Michael Cristofer from his own screenplay in addition to the talented cast led by Tye Sheridan at his disposal, it creates a tense and uncertain aura with questionable actions and terror at the surface, yet also lots of love and heart exuding from the edges. Never trying to take things in shocking or unbelievable directions, ‘The Night Clerk’ always remains firmly in the world of believability and often opts for taking the more general directions with its story turns, although never in a negative manner; only helping it to maintain its realistic nature every step of the way and avoiding the mistake far too many films make of trying to reach beyond their grasp, even when it’s entirely unnecessary to do so. It may not be absolutely perfect in every possible way, but the numerous positives supporting it far outweigh the few minor negatives such as the occasional slight pacing issues while it’s picking up speed.
Overall, ‘The Night Clerk’ is an original and captivating dramatic thriller with an extraordinary performance from the talented Tye Sheridan who is at the top of his game here. Balancing tension, uncertainty and heart along with a general mystery surrounding a young man who already has trouble blending in with society and suddenly finds himself swimming in trouble when elements out of his control combined with actions of his own quickly result in him becoming a key suspect. ‘The Night Clerk’ is definitely recommended, especially for fans of Sheridan who won’t even want to think about missing out on his outstanding performance. Those who enjoy the work of filmmaker Michael Cristofer or simply appreciate an original and engaging dramatic thriller should both also find a great deal to appreciate about this generally solid film.
Film Rating: 8/10
‘The Night Clerk’ Arrives in Select Theaters & On Demand February 21, 2020 From Saban Films