Low-budget horror films aren’t the type that usually have an accompanying single.
The Yellow Night has one. Sort of. It’s an upbeat, old-school punk song by Metá Metá called “Me Perco Nesse Tempo”, and it plays at three different points throughout the film. The chorus is a repetitive hook that’s easy to chant along with: “I get lost in time! I get lost in time!”
While its inclusion might be unexpected, the hook is fitting, so apropos that it’s perhaps the best distillation of the film itself. We meet seven recent high school graduates in Brazil, we observe them as they interact and reminisce on an almost-deserted island, and then we try to put the puzzle pieces together as they…get lost in time.
The film is a sometimes frustrating, ultimately mind-bending experience, more of a mood piece than a straight-forward narrative. Its strength is its characters, who are just the right age to have interesting things to say without trying to sound important, and the naturalistic dialogue gives them this freedom.
Truly, there are lots of conversations in this film, many of which may or may not pertain to the story. One character recounts an incident with a possessed cow at his family’s slaughterhouse. Another character proclaims that he’s an “old soul,” someone who has been reincarnated many times, and he makes elaborate requests for what he believes to be his last funeral. And there are a handful of conversations about dreams all throughout.
The most interesting bit in the script is, alas, perhaps the most vexing. The two lead heroines of the story, one of whom is allowing their friend group to stay at her grandfather’s old house, discover some of his possessions. And they’re rather fascinating, particularly a notebook titled The Quantum Imaginary and a videotape of one of his lectures on quantum photography and quantum entanglement. (Lots of quantums.) It’s not easy to follow, but the gist seems to revolve around…getting lost in time.
These relics from the grandfather’s “laboratory” aren’t exactly a forgotten dead-end, but they are certainly underutilized as the story goes along. And they’re not the only missed opportunities. There’s a man who gives the kids a ride and presents them with a card that reads “Butcher, Charter Truck, Shaman” (an amazing combination). There’s a curious bit of repeated dialogue near the middle. And there’s an extended flashback to an incident at a gas station that doesn’t seem to justify its minute count. Only the latter is referenced later on, and just in passing.
The final scenes of the film ratchet up the suspense, but they don’t ultimately provide many answers, inviting viewers to use their imagination instead. The extent to which you’re willing to do so is probably on par with how much you’ll enjoy The Yellow Night. This is more of a head trip than an FX showcase, so put on your thinking cap if you’re ready to make this quantum leap.
The Yellow Night screened as part of the 2020 Chattanooga Film Festival. If you’d like to check it out for yourself, or any of the other films in our upcoming CFF 2020 coverage, visit the Chattanooga Film Festival website (U.S. residents only).
[CFF 2020] ‘The Yellow Night’ is an Eerie Head Trip Across a Deserted Brazilian Island
‘The Yellow Night’ doesn’t pay off all of its ideas, but the characters keep this narrative afloat.