Synopsis: A desperate Cree woman joins an underground band of vigilantes to infiltrate a State children’s academy and get her daughter back.
Stars: Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers, Brooklyn Letexier-Hart, Alex Tarrant, Amanda Plummer, Violet Nelson, Gail Maurice
Director: Danis Goulet
Running Length: 97 minutes
TMMM Score: (6/10)
Review: It’s only natural that as representation in film (especially genre films) grows, so do the complexities in the cultures that are presented to audiences. This is doubly true in the horror and science fiction community which have long drawn from ancient civilizations and previously underrepresented societies for their own skewed version of practiced traditions. Thankfully, more of these peoples are having their voices heard and platforms on which to showcase their talent are more readily available to them. Already in 2021, First Nations horror film Don’t Say Its Name has been making the rounds of genre film fests and while I didn’t much spark to that one, it’s undeniable the talent that was a part of getting it made.
Next up is Night Raiders, a far more successful attempt that takes us into a post-apocalyptic future with a set-up that feels familiar but featuring enough engaging performances and directorial choices to keep it afloat for most of its running length. It’s not going to rock your world but it’s far better than any of the direct-to-video junk Bruce Willis has made recently, mostly because you can tell that those involved want to be there.
Written and directed by Danis Goulet, Night Raiders is, at its most boiled-down, the story of a Cree woman surviving twenty years in the future with her daughter after a world changing event who has to make an agonizing choice in order to save her child. With her daughter’s life on the line, she leaves her behind so she can receive the medical care she desperately needs and then turns around and immediately plots how to retrieve her from a mysterious military regime which trains children’s to be soldiers. Eventually, the woman teams up with a resistance movement made up of her own people as well as other races. Ultimately, she fights to save not just her family but the hope of a future that looks increasingly bleak.
Goulet’s future appears as depressingly glum as all the others in a similar vein, but not all had an actress like Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers acting like a beam of light in the middle of it all. Tailfeathers does great work here, nicely leading a strong cast of performers of varying experience. It’s not all smooth sailing but for the most part Night Raiders goes over easily and, surprisingly, winds up being more entertaining than it hints at early on. The marketing on this one is smart and will draw people in with promises of more action and suspense than are actually there, but for once that’s an OK thing. What’s here is actually better, because strong performances and developed characters will always win me over.