Starring Richard Grieco, Tom Sizemore, and Robert LaSardo, NIGHT OF THE TOMMYKNOCKERS (2022) is the latest film from director Michael Su and writers Rolfe Kanefsky, Michael Mahal, and Sonny Mahal.
NIGHT OF THE TOMMYKNOCKERS opens with a group of miners who’ve dug too deep. They are attacked by creatures known as “tommyknockers” (a creature found in American folklore, but not like this!). Meanwhile, an outlaw group known as the “Dirk gang” plans a bank heist. The heist turns into a siege as the escaped tommyknockers wreak havoc on the town until they get their gold back.
In order to enjoy NIGHT OF THE TOMMYKNOCKERS, you’re going to have to accept two things. First, in the universe of the film, creatures called “tommyknockers” exist in mines and seek to harm those that would take their gold. This is, all things considered, not a terribly big ask of most audiences. The second thing you must accept is this: the filmmakers have seemingly no interest in realism. This is a capital ‘G’ Genre film, which might be difficult for viewers accustomed to more mainstream productions. But if you have a taste for artifice and a cinematic style that openly and unapologetically contrives spectacle, then you’re in for a treat. NIGHT OF THE TOMMYKNOCKERS is a gleeful, hilariously entertaining ride that revels in the joy of genre.
TOMMYKNOCKERS probably owes much of its effectiveness to a clear and compelling script. The western plot beats are familiar enough: outlaws, a heist, double-crossing, and revenge. The horror beats, too, will be familiar to most audiences: accidentally unearthing ancient creatures and a classic monster siege that the “NIGHT OF” title implies. There is enough familiarity that viewers will have something to grasp onto, which means that the script is free to build on those beats without risk of losing the audience. Each character has clear motivations, and many get cheer-worthy moments in the third act, especially Lucky (Robert LaSardo) and Henry (Denny Nolan). The writing here is economical and effective.
Each cast member, even those with minor roles, give a performance perfect for the film. Depending on your taste, they will strike you as either a bit off or pitch-perfect. If you get excited by the artificiality of the overall production, then you’ll likely agree with me that it’s the latter. There’s a palpable sense of fun in every line, and that’s what counts. The creature design and practical effects are also a blast. Are the tommyknockers just guys in suits? Yes. And the suits are awesome. Again, the film is not interested in realism, it’s interested in a good time. Overall, NIGHT OF THE TOMMYKNOCKERS does what any good genre film should do: it gives the audience 90(-ish) minutes of engaging entertainment.
Genre fans, watch this film. You can check out the trailer here.
NIGHT OF THE TOMMYKNOCKERS is available November 25, 2022 on VOD, Blu Ray, and DVD through Gravitas Ventures.