Everwinter Night (2023)

Rating: D+

Dir: Adam Newman
Star: Victoria Mirrer, McKenna Parsons, Chris Goodwin, Jamie Dufault

This starts well enough, with a couple making a stop at a mountain lodge, to ask for directions. It’s the wrongest possible destination. Thirty years later, BFF’s Maddy (Parsons) and V (Mirrer) are plotting a weekend away. Except, Maddy has made other arrangements, bringing along a couple of shrieking gal pals. Who, in turn, have hooked up with a group of handsome, rich assholes, and now everybody is going to their lodge. It’s the last place V wants to be, and unfortunately most viewers will be right with her. How irritating are all of these characters? I gave serious consideration to watching the Biden-Trump debate instead. And I can’t even vote.

I sense it’s deliberate, to be fair. The men, in particular, are intended to be obnoxious, especially their leader, Erik (Goodwin), who sounds like he has swallowed a dictionary. The plummy accent is the cherry on top. Ten minutes in these people’s company is five minutes too long, and it’s closer to an hour before we get any significant movement on the plot front. It turns out the men are near-immortal, providing regular sacrifices are made – and I don’t mean cutting out saturated fats. Their intentions toward the guests are less than honourable, and things get murkier when their wives turn up. Or, at least, the most recent iteration of their wives. Things build towards a summoning ritual designed to extend their lives (top). Not if V has her way.

It’s a decent and bloody ending. The problem is, it takes far too long to reach this stage, and you’d be forgiven for having already checked out. Before things kick off, there are a couple of scenes to suggest threat, but we desperately need a consistently escalating feeling of unease. I get having some early scenes to lull the viewer – and the characters – into a false sense of security, before things start to go a bit Pete Tong. This simply has way too much lulling, to a near-soporific extent. In this light, the prologue from three decades earlier might have been a mistake. It leaves the audience 100% certain something bad will happen. They’re just left waiting for it to show up. And waiting. And waiting. 

Spending so much time with thoroughly unlikeable characters caused poor Chris to hate this with a passion. She passed down her death sentence – “I can’t wait for them all to die” – very early, and never achieved much of the hoped-for satisfaction. By the end, she pronounced it the worst film she’d seen in a long time. I didn’t feel quite so harsh: I’m a sucker for cult conspiracy films, and will always look kindly upon them. But even I have to admit this is sunk by major problems of pacing. If the cult had dealt with Maddy, V and their pals, in the same, briskly efficient way as the guests in the prologue, we’d have been in a much better film. Albeit one which only lasted about ten minutes.