Review: ‘Devil’s Night: Dawn of the Nain Rouge,’ starring Jesi Jensen, Nathan Kane Mathers, Sam Logan Khaleghi and Jerry Narsh

June 26, 2020

by Carla Hay

Jesse Dean and Jesi Jensen in “Devil’s Night: Dawn of the Nain Rouge” (Photo courtesy of Cinedigm)

“Devil’s Night: Dawn of the Nain Rouge”

Directed by Sam Logan Khaleghi

Culture Representation: Taking place primarily in Lake Orion, Michigan, the horror flick “Devil’s Night: Dawn of the Nain Rouge” features an racially diverse cast (white, African American and Asian) representing the middle-class.

Culture Clash: A demon goes on a bloody killing spree in Lake Orion.

Culture Audience: “Devil’s Night: Dawn of the Nain Rouge” will appeal primarily to people who like tacky low-budget horror films.

Grover McCants in “Devil’s Night: Dawn of the Nain Rouge” (Photo courtesy of Cinedigm)

There are two kinds of cheesy horror movies in this world: Movies that are so bad that they’re funny and movies that are so bad that they’re boring. Unfortunately, the moronic “Devil’s Night: Dawn of the Nain Rouge” falls into the latter category, as the characters in the movie don’t do very much but show up around different parts of the city and occasionally react when the movie’s “demon on the loose” goes after another victim. You know it’s bad when the demon, which is supposed to be the scariest thing about this film, looks like someone in a very cheap Halloween costume.

“Devil’s Night: Dawn of the Nain Rouge” (directed by Sam Logan Khaleghi and written by Aaron Russman) begins with the demon attacking two casual acquaintances who are hanging out together at night in a graveyard in Lake Orion, Michigan. (The city is depicted in this movie as an industrial wasteland suburb of Detroit.) The two graveyard victims are Rochelle Winston (played Angelina Ebegbuzie) and Raj Dilal (played by Rish Mitra). Rochelle is savagely murdered, while Raj manages to escape.

It should be noted that apparently this demon likes to shop at Adidas, because the red demon is decked out head to toe (or maybe head to hoof) in black-colored streetwear, including a hoodie sweatshirt and athletic shoes. Yes, it’s that kind of movie.

Raj is the main suspect in Rochelle’s murder, since he was the last known person to have seen her alive. Raj is brought into the Lake Orion Police Department (LOPD) for questioning. He’s interrogated by Detective Liam O’Connor (played by Nathan Kane Mathers) and Detective Sammie Alayoubi (played by Amma Nemo), who think that Raj is guilty, especially when Raj starts rambling about how he saw a devil in the graveyard, and Raj insists that this devil is responsible for the murder.

Also on the LOPD staff are Chief Romano (played by Jerry Narsh) and Staff Sergeant Billie Jean Finnick (played by Jesi Jensen), who is the main field investigator in what will turn out to be the demon’s killing spree. Finnick is no pushover cop (she threatens to punch Alayoubi when he makes a sexist comment to her), but she’s open to the possibility that there might be supernatural forces involved in the murder.

Finnick (which is what most people in the movie call her) is also a military veteran with a tragic backstory of having her best friend Alice die in her arms while on a mission in Eastern Europe. (The death is shown in a flashback.) Alice’s father Cal (played Andrew Dawe-Collins) is a mean and bitter drunk who blames Finnick for his daughter’s death, which adds to Finnick’s feelings of guilt.

The purpose of the Cal character in the movie seems to be to occasionally show up and insult Finnick, whether it’s at the graveyard when he’s visiting Alice’s grave (it’s the same graveyard where Rochelle was murdered), or when he comes home and is enraged to find out that his son Ellis (played by Robert Laenen), who still lives with Cal, has taken a romantic interest in Finnick. Why is Ellis still living with his father? Ellis is an aspiring bronze/metal sculptor who’s trying to get his life back on track since he’s a recovering drug addict.

The murdered body count starts to pile up in Lake Orion. Finnick is called to a crime scene inside an abandoned temple, where another massacred body is found, and she sees the demon for herself, but it eludes capture. It isn’t long before Finnick decides she needs help outside of her jurisdiction.

She places a call to someone and says (try to not to laugh at this cheesy line): “I’ve got big trouble in a small town, sir.” The next thing you know, foul-mouthed Detective Nightingale (played by Grover McCants) from the Detroit Police Department shows up. He’s on special assignment to help Finnick and the rest of the LOPD to solve the mystery of this killing spree.

The Nightingale character is the best thing about this bad movie because the flippant lines he throws out show that he’s not easily impressed and he doesn’t really care what people think about him. His presence also brings some much-needed humor to this dreadfully dull movie.

Detective Nightingale takes Finnick to meet with Dr. Khadir (played by Nepoleon Duraisamy), who works at a nearby museum. Khadir tells them that an ancient Ottawa Indian tribe knife was stolen from the museum. Legend has it that whoever owns the knife can summon a “ruthless guardian angel,” but only if the owner of the knife doesn’t become greedy. French settlers in 1700s Detroit didn’t heed the warning, so death and destruction followed.

Khadir says that whoever stole the knife from the museum probably summoned the demon, which is called Le Nain Rouge, which is French for The Red Dwarf. However, this movie’s red demon (played by Jesse Dean) is definitely not dwarf-sized. “We have to find that knife!” says Nightingale.

While Finnick and Nightingale try to get to the bottom of the mystery, “Devil’s Night: Dawn of the Nain Rouge” features some other people who might or might nor cross paths with the demon. Marcellus (played by the movie’s director Khaleghi) is a well-connected hoodlum who’s been able to avoid serious prison time because his godfather is Mayor Flynn of Detroit (played by rapper Swifty McVay), who is very corrupt and growing increasingly annoyed with covering up the crimes of Marcellus.

Pastor Wilhem (played by John C. Forman) is a Lake Orion clergyman who’s become increasingly concerned about the crime rate in the area. Anna Lee (played by Judy Stepanian) is a middle-aged spinster who does work at the pastor’s church and is convinced that a demon is on the loose. Ike Bruce (played by Dennis Marin) is a drug addict who operates a meth lab.

And by the time Lake Orion Mayor Marion DeVaux (played by Amy Andrews) shows up in the movie, she’s giving a press conference to announce that the city will have an 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew because there have been 17 deaths in a week. Of course, if that type of murder rate in happened in real life in this city, the local police would ask the FBI for help, but why let those pesky realistic details get in the way of this bad movie?

“Devil’s Night: Dawn of the Nain Rouge” was shot entirely in Michigan, so the movie has some local Detroit-area notables in the cast. Narsh, who plays Chief Romano, was the real-life police chief of Lake Orion, until he retired in 2019, after 38 years with the LOPD. Andrews, who plays Mayor Marion DeVaux, is in real life a news anchor at KTVI-TV, the Fox affiliate in Detroit.

And two of the cast members have a connection to Detroit native/rap superstar Eminem. Mathers, who plays Detective O’Connor, is Eminem’s brother. McVay, who plays Mayor Flynn of Detroit, is a member of Eminem’s former rap group D-12. But this movie is not going to be a Detroit classic, like “8 Mile,” the 2002 drama that was Eminem’s film debut. The closest that “Devil’s Night” comes to “8 Mile” is that the demon is clad in streetwear that looks like what Eminem would’ve worn in “8 Mile.”

Speaking of the demon, the visual effects in “Devil’s Night: Dawn of the Nain Rouge” are very amateurish, since the demon’s tail and long tongue don’t look realistic and are obviously digital visual effects. There’s also a very fake-looking explosion in the movie. And although the best technical aspect about “Devil’s Night” is the appropriate foreboding musical score, the film editing is terrible (the jump cuts would get a failing grade in film school) and the acting in the movie is even worse.

Most of the actors sound like they’re just reciting their lines instead of having realistic dialogue. And in some of the terror scenes, there’s some seriously awful over-acting. At one point in the movie during an action scene, a character shouts, “Don’t get any bright ideas!” while another character replies, “I used up all my bright ideas!” What a perfect way to describe this derivative and disappointing movie.

Kyyba Films and Cinedigm released “Devil’s Night: Dawn of the Nain Rouge” on digital and VOD on June 23, 2020.