#REVIEW: “NEON LIGHTS”
Review by David Baldwin for Mr. Will Wong
Tech Tycoon Clay Amani (Dana Abraham) is not well. His mental health is a mess and he is haunted by childhood traumas. On the suggestion of his Therapist, Clay goes into seclusion in his isolated estate and attempts a family reunion with his estranged siblings. Feelings and secrets are revealed, as is a whole lot of awkwardness. As Clay begins unravelling – due in no small part to his trusted advisor Denver Kane (Kim Coates) – his guests start disappearing, and even stranger things begin happening around everyone who remains.
NEON LIGHTS has an ambition about itself right from the drop. It wastes no time introducing all of the players and getting them in the house together, and then proceeds to sprint recklessly to the finish line. It does its best to waste little time and takes great joy in toying with both the characters and the audience’s expectations. While I quickly caught onto one of the plethora of twists Abraham injects into the Script (his first feature-length work no less), I was pleasantly surprised by a few of the others that came later on. He cribs from other sources and hones in on well-known tropes, yet never lets any of it feel overly stale. His performance is just as good, if not better. He is deeply-invested in the character and expresses his nuances and idiosyncrasies magnificently. He may not be the most reliable Narrator, but I could not look away anytime he was on-screen.
Where the Film falters is in its Editing. It deliberately wants to be mysterious and keep you guessing, throwing in random scenes, moments and characters that…well, do not quite come together as cohesively as they should. While I do not want to write it off as a bad movie by any stretch, I feel like Director Rouzbeh Heydari could have done a better job reigning-in the Edit as well as cleaning up some of the more needless elements and intentional red herrings. And I am being totally serious when I ask how many times do we really need to see Coates wordlessly brooding? I love how easy it is for him to play a devious scumbag, but feel like he could have been better utilized. The rest of the Supporting Cast does their best, even with some unsightly dialogue, though none of them are quite as compelling nor as interesting as Abraham.
I feel like I admire NEON LIGHTS and its ambition more than I actually like it as a Film. Abraham does very well for himself as the Writer and Lead Actor, but I feel like the whole thing could have been stronger if it was tighter and less deliberate with its mis-directions. For what it is though, NEON LIGHTS is fine enough.
eOne Films’ NEON LIGHTS is available on Digital and On-Demand now.