Review: ‘Terror in the Night’

This physically rugged, outdoor suspense thriller is a tightly coiled camper's nightmare: Being kidnapped and assaulted by a crazed rapist/killer running amok in the woods while posing as a cop.

This physically rugged, outdoor suspense thriller is a tightly coiled camper’s nightmare: Being kidnapped and assaulted by a crazed rapist/killer running amok in the woods while posing as a cop.

The production understands its visceral denominator and what it wants to do: Exploit the fear of death and sexual violation in an isolated forest. Omitting a minor knock for weak peripheral performances, it generally delivers on the primal goods.

As the victim, Justine Bateman captures credible survival instincts, veering between acquiescence to her captor’s sexual abuse and gritty resistance (including foiled escapes and a plunge down a river and over a deafening waterfall).

As the misfit terrorizing her, Joe Penny plays to the hilt a stringy-haired, unpredictable, desperate Dennis Hopper-tainted character. It’s the sort of movie-stealing role many actors would die for.

Movie’s strongest feature is director Colin Bucksey’s action sequences from a script based (what else is new?) on real-life events.

Contributing to the creepy, dysfunctional mood are handheld closeups and the maniac’s edgy companion (the stressed-out Valerie Landsburg). Weirdly dependent, she simmers with jealousy, toting around two young children and her own problems.

Complementing Bateman before he breaks free and essentially disappears from the screen is the heroine’s camper boyfriend (Matt Mulhern).

Terror in the Night

(Tues. (11), 9-11 p.m., CBS)

Production

Filmed in North Carolina by the Landsburg Co. in association with Cinematigue and CBS Entertainment Prods. Exec producer, Alan Landsburg; producer, Kay Hoffman; co-producers, Denise DeGarmo, Randy Ritchie; director, Colin Bucksey; script, DeGarmo, Ritchie, Landsburg.

Crew

Camera, David Walsh; editor, Drake Silliman; production designer, Norm Baron; music, Dana Kaproff.

Cast

Cast: Joe Penny, Justine Bateman, Matt Mulhern, Valerie Landsburg, Al Wiggins , John Bennes, Barry Bell, Pat Miller, Josh Copeland, Lindsay Broockman, Greg Hohn, Marc Macaulay, James Martin Jr., Howard Kingkade, Lisa Cooley, Elizabeth Dominguez.
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