The generically titled “Beyond the Night” spins out a twisty mystery that becomes more engrossing as it unfolds. But writer-director Jason Noto’s drama too often proves a drearily one-note look at small-town crime, corruption and narrow-mindedness.
Ray Marrow (Zane Holtz) returns from Army duty when his wife Maisie is killed in a car crash in which their 5-year-old son, Lawrence (Azhy Robertson), survived. But when Ray, with Lawrence in tow, travels to Ray and Maisie’s hometown to bury her, deep wounds reopen involving the cold case disappearance of July Rain (not kidding), the daughter of local gangster Bernie (Chance Kelly).
This trouble begins as Lawrence displays psychic ability that an out-of-town psychologist (Enid Graham) — brought in by Ray’s cop sister (Tammy Blanchard) — believes could be the boy recalling a past life. This theory rattles the churchgoing townies (“The boy’s got the devil in him!”) and sends Bernie over the edge, thinking Lawrence, who has a large port-wine birthmark on his face, is his “baby girl” incarnate.
The glowering Ray must protect his son from the rampaging Bernie and his henchmen as the truth about July Rain clarifies, with a nasty local sheriff and his pastor brother also in the mix.
As a low-wattage second cousin to “The Sixth Sense,” the movie has passably tense moments. If only Noto had portrayed his tightly-wound characters and glum setting with a bit more dimension and finesse.
‘Beyond the Night’
Running time: 1 hour, 38 minutes
Playing: Starts Jan. 11, Laemmle Glendale