Delving into Night Kaleidoscope is in many ways like delving into the mind of lead character Fian (Patrick O’Brien) – a psychedelic drug-smoking psychic who is hired by an aloof character (whom we presume to be a policeman) to track down two murderers with a penchant for human flesh.
Opening with a disturbing sequence that serves as a cross between a zombie attack and vampire horror, director Grant McPhee utilises every trick in the editing book to create murder scenes that are in equal parts gory yet murky, horrifying yet suggested. From slow-motion to fast cuts, a fragmented picture is often created as if viewed from the perspective of the Fian’s murky, complicated mind.
It’s a fresh technique albeit one that gets somewhat overdone at times – the murder scenes are continuous and accompanied by a heavy 80’s style soundtrack that feels like overkill. Proceedings do occasionally pause for minimal dialogue, refreshingly light on exposition, to move the somewhat slight plot along. These ‘conscious’ scenes are aided by the world weary performances of the small cast, who work well with what little screen time they have.
That it takes time to engage on an emotional level is more to do with the film's structure than the acting talent. The introduction of a victim of the perpetrators to assist with the investigation is a welcome addition as the events unfold, injecting some much needed emotion into the events.
Yet this is more about Night Kaleidoscope's look and feel, and the technical skill of the filmmakers is undeniable. It’s not style over substance by any stretch of the imagination, there is just enough of the latter for such an accusation to be unfair. Yet amidst the tower blocks and night time of an unspecified Scottish city, McPhee has created an unusual experimental horror film that, while not wholly successful, showcases significant technical and a certain degree of artistic ability.