Don't Be Afraid of the Light Review
By Mikah WOlanski (May 24th, 2018)
Directed by: Jason Rostovsky
Written by: Jason Rostovsky
Produced by: Jason Rostovsky, Rachel Walker, Lydia Cartwright
Key Cast: Charlotte Alexis White, Torran Kitts, Raam Weinfeld, Andrea Behm, Meredith Thomas
One of my most beloved genre of film is Horror/Suspense. Arguably more than any other genre, it allows it’s viewers to let loose, enjoy, and avoid over analyzing. In essence, it’s the one genre that, if you don’t mind a good scare or two, you can just sit and enjoy. And this was no different in writer/director/producer Jason Rostovsky’s debut film Don’t Be Afraid of the Light.
Don’t Be Afraid of the Light follows a young teenage girl, played by Charlotte Alexis White, who is being relentlessly bullied at school. Her attackers, a group of three classmates, persistently berate the young victim about her obsession with monsters, amongst other things. Little do the bullies know that the monsters White’s character obsesses over is inspired by a very real, very scary ‘monster’ she encounters regularly in her home life. While most kids would find comfort returning home to their families at the end of a hard day, White’s character’s return home only amplifies her problems, as there, the ‘monster’ is never far away.
Rostovsky’s debut film is quite simply a high quality, professional production. There is a keen sense that Rostovsky knows what he’s doing on set and is able to fit pieces together to create a great film. From the beautifully lensed scenes by the talented cinematographer Daniella Nowitz, to the amazing work done by the makeup and production design teams, to the beautiful sound and music, this film was brought together seamlessly and much of the praise should be sent Rostovsky’s way, along with his fellow producer’s Rachel Walker and Lydia Cartwright. There is absolutely no section within this film that would point to this being a first-time director, and that alone says a lot to the talent of Rostovsky and his entire team.
It’s hard to say much more about this films craftsmanship without going into more detail on cinematographer Daniella Nowitz’s work. She shot this thing stunningly, and brought the entire film to another level. From shot selection, to framing, to lighting choices, Nowitz did some fantastic work throughout this 13 minute runtime that truly grips the viewer - keeping their eyes glued to the screen. I could easily watch this film on mute and still thoroughly enjoy it – which is saying a lot considering how awesome the sound design is.
Don’t Be Afraid of the Light follows very similar beats that you’d see in many modern day thrillers and films in general. For example, the three man bully group is nothing new when it comes to films centered around teenagers and High School – and the ‘crazy’ child who sees ‘imaginary’ monsters is nothing new to the thriller genre. However, I believe that the use of some of these recycled beats were for a specific purpose – to eventually catch the audience off-guard. Without going into too much detail, I found myself suspecting this film to go in one particular direction for about 70% of the runtime. I was waiting and I was ready. Just when I was sure I knew how it was going to end, the film took an intense 180 degree turn and baffled me with its outcome. Now, this isn’t to say that someone else watching this film won’t know exactly what’s going to happen - they might – but for me, it was a shock and I played right into the impending twist. And for that, I’m thankful, as it made the film even more entertaining to watch and turned it into a more thought provoking movie than I had expected to watch. For this, the writers deserve congratulations.
Throughout the 13 minute runtime, Don’t Be Afraid of the Light takes it’s viewer on an enjoyable, suspenseful and emotional ride. It uses it’s wonderful craftsmanship not only to thrill and excite the audience, but also to teach us a very important life lesson; never assume you know what someone else is going through. This being his debut film, I can only imagine what Jason Rostovsky will be able to accomplish next. I for one can say I’m more than excited to watch this young man’s career progress.
- Mikah Wolanski