Review: ‘Twas the Night’ (2021), starring Nicole Pringle and David S. Perez

December 22, 2021

by Carla Hay

David S. Perez, Abel Rosario and Nicole Pringle in “Twas the Night” (Photo courtesy of Vertical Entertainment)

“Twas the Night” (2021)

Directed by Chris Rodriguez and Grant Rosado (also known as the Ro Bros)

Culture Representation: Taking place in an unnamed U.S. city, the dark comedy film “Twas the Night” features a racially diverse cast of characters (white, black and Latino) representing the working-class and middle-class.

Culture Clash: After a street charity Santa Claus accidentally hits his head on the stairs in a newly engaged couple’s home and is presumed dead, the panicked lovebirds frantically try to hide the body in the house while their parents come over for a Christmas holiday visit.

Culture Audience: “Twas the Night” will appeal primarily to people who don’t mind watching amateurish independent films with horrible acting.

Pictured clockwise, from left: Lisa Panagopoulos, Paul Van Scott, Nicole Pringle, Cynthia D. Perry and James Lee Fronck in “Twas the Night” (Photo by Vertical Entertainment)

“Twas the Night” is a Christmas-themed dark comedy that’s as unappealing as stale egg nog: It’s nauseatingly bad, and it just plain stinks. The movie’s weak plot is made even worse by the entire cast having amateur-level, horrendous acting. Almost all of the characters are so obnoxious that spending time with them is like having a Christmas from hell.

“Twas the Night” was written and directed by Chris Rodriguez and Grant Rosado (also known as the Ro Bros), who took a flimsy idea that should have been a short film (at best) and stretched it out into a dull, unpleasant and repetitive slog of a feature-length film. There is absolutely nothing fun or imaginative about “Twas the Night,” which is filled with the cast members either over-emoting in the worst ways or woodenly reciting their lines, almost like robots.

The movie’s total running time is only 83 minutes, but it feels like longer because the movie is so bad, you can’t wait for it to end. “Twas the Night” wastes the first 15 minutes of the movie over-explaining that newly engaged couple—photographer Nick (played by David S. Perez) and psychiatrist Holly (played by Nicole Pringle)—are experiencing some unwanted backlash because Holly had a recent public outburst that went viral.

The movie takes place during the Christmas holiday season. There’s a man dressed as Santa Claus who’s been standing on the sidewalk in front of the couple’s house as he collects charity money in a small bucket. During his charity work, this Santa Claus constantly rings a bell.

One morning, the bell-ringing sounds annoyed Holly so much that she stormed outside and started yelling at this charity Santa Claus. Holly shouted at him to stop ringing the bell: “Do it again, and I’ll kill you!” she threatened. “Congratulations, you just ruined my day!” she screamed in a huff. A passerby on the street recorded Holly’s temper tantrum on video.

This video goes viral on social media and is covered on the local news. Holly is labeled a real-life Scrooge who threatened Santa. She starts to get hate mail from strangers, as shown in the movie’s opening scene when a little boy dressed as an elf (played by Samy Zipser) hand-delivers a hate letter to Holly’s house.

It’s one of many unbelievable aspects of “Twas the Night,” because this type of outburst definitely would not be newsworthy enough to be a top story on the local news. But it’s a contrivance that the movie has, in order to explain why Holly has become a despised “outcast” in the community. “Twas the Night” takes place in an unnamed U.S. city, but the movie was actually filmed in Savannah, Georgia. Holly is paranoid that her parents will find out about her embarrassing viral video and that she’s been in the local news about it.

Holly reads some of her hate mail and gripes to Nick: “They think I hate Christmas. I don’t! They just believe whatever they hear! They’re ignorant!” Holly isn’t the only one affected by this backlash. When Nick goes to a local candy store/cafe, he gets a snide attitude from a sales clerk named Joy (played by Skye Vreeken) about how she saw Holly on the news. Joy’s tone of voice suggests that she thinks Holly must be a nightmare to live with, so Joy seems to feel a little bit sorry for Nick.

Meanwhile, it’s Christmas Eve, and Holly and Nick have a more pressing matter to deal with that day: Their parents, who don’t live in the area, are coming over to Holly and Nick’s house to visit. It will be the first time that the parents will meet each other and the first time that the parents will see the house where Holly and Nick live.

Before this parental visit, Holly goes outside to the charity Santa on the sidewalk and tries to make amends with him. They introduce themselves to each other. She finds out that his name is Jesús. As a peace offering, Holly invites him inside her home to have some hot chocolate and cookies.

Jesús accepts her offer, and they make small talk. He tells Holly that he’s an architect as his day job. His charity fundraising dressed as Santa Claus is part of his volunteer work for the charity. During this house visit, Jesús notices that a decorative string of pine leaves needs to be fully attached to the top of a door frame that’s located near the front door. He offers to attach this decoration for Holly, who has to get a ladder for Jesús to use.

But what do you know: As soon as Jesús finishes hanging this decoration, Nick suddenly comes home and opens the front door. Jesús gets knocked off of the ladder and hits his head on the stairs. He’s unconscious and bleeding profusely on his head. In a panic, Nick and Holly check to see if Jesús still has a pulse, but they can’t find one, so they assume that he’s dead.

Nick wants to call an ambulance, but Holly adamantly refuses because she says that she was caught on video threatening Jesús, so she’ll automatically be a suspect and will probably be arrested. And just a few minutes later, Nick’s parents Mary (played by Cynthia D. Perry) and Rudy (played by James Lee Fronck), who live in Boston, show up at the front door. Holly’s parents Eve (played by Lisa Panagopoulos) and Joe (played by Paul Van Scott), who live in a Houston suburb, arrive shortly afterward.

And so, there’s a mad dash in the house as Nick and Holly scramble to find a place to hide the body inside the house, as they stall their parents from coming inside the house. After Nick and Holly hide the body, they let their parents inside the house but continue to act strange and jumpy. The rest of the movie involves more unrealistic stupidity, as the body gets moved around to different rooms when Nick and Holly fear that any of their parents could go into the room where the body is being kept.

That’s because in a dumb movie like “Twas the Night,” when Mary and Eve ask for a house tour, they don’t just look around. They have to open every closet and cupboard in every room they enter. During a family dinner, nervous Nick keeps getting up from the table to move the body, which makes him look even more suspicious.

A wide-eyed Holly comes up with not-very-believable excuses for why Nick keeps disappearing and why there are thumps and dragging noises in parts of the house when the body is being moved. And, of course, there’s the predictable scene where the body almost falls down the stairs while it’s being dragged to another part of the house. At one point, Jesús’ body is hidden in a bathtub, so more idiotic hijinks ensue when dimwitted Nick sees that blood in the bathtub needs to be cleaned up when the body is moved.

And what a coincidence: Holly’s father Joe just happens to be a police officer who works in a homicide department. It’s just a reason for the movie to have a character who immediately senses that something is very wrong with the way that Nick and Holly are acting. Rudy is a psychiatrist, and Mary is an emergency room doctor, which makes their later actions in the story particularly heinous and irresponsible. Joe isn’t much better, in terms of how he thinks a certain situation should be resolved, when he’s a cop who should know better.

Holly’s mother Eve, who’s a retired department-store clothing buyer, is very shrill and annoying throughout the entire movie. It’s easy to see where Holly gets her off-putting personality. Nick’s parents aren’t as high-strung in their personalities, but for two people who have medical degrees, they’re incredibly oblivious and unprofessional when certain things are brought to their attention.

As soon as viewers see that Nick and Holly barely examined Jesús after he hit his head on the stairs, it’s very easy to predict the outcome of this body-hiding farce. Until that happens, the movie is just a series of foolish slapstick scenes that become more and more irritating as the characters in the movie act more and more ridiculous. And the movie’s sloppy editing and cheesy sitcom-like score just ruin what should have been a smartly paced and amusing dark comedy.

“Twas the Night” is a comedy that is a pathetic failure at being funny. Perry is the only one in the cast who comes close to having some sense of comedic timing, but that’s not saying much when she’s given awful lines of dialogue, and her delivery is often stiff and unnatural. Everyone else’s comedic timing and how they deliver their lines are just completely atrocious with no redeeming qualities. At one point in the movie, Nick and Holly try to bury Jesús. It’s too bad that the horrific “Twas the Night” screenplay wasn’t buried, because this foul movie should never have been made in the first place.

Vertical Entertainment released “Twas the Night” in select U.S. cinemas, digital and VOD on December 3, 2021.

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