Review: Strange thriller 'The Night Clerk' an underdeveloped snooze
Courtesy of Saban Films
In “The Night Clerk,” Tye Sheridan (“Ready Player One”) plays the role of Bart, a 23-year old night shift receptionist with Asperger’s syndrome at a hotel that strives for inclusion and makes a point to hire folks with disabilities. Considering his condition doesn’t bode well in social situations, Bart has set about ways to cure his anxiety. (Cure might be a strong word). He’s planted a series of small cameras in the rooms, allowing him to watch the guests and study their mannerisms and behavior.
One night he sees a female guest (Jacque Gray) get assaulted by a man, yet by the time Bart rushes to her aid, she’s been shot dead. Despite numerous warnings to steer away from the crime scene, Bart can’t help but throw his grubby paws all over it. Next thing you know he’s the prime suspect for John Leguizamo’s tired police detective who really doesn’t look like he wants to be assigned to the case.
Eventually, “Knives Out” and upcoming Bond girl Ana de Armes comes into the picture as Andrea, a hotel guest who befriends Bart and strikes up a flirtatious relationship. She connects with Bart because her brother, she says, is on the spectrum. It’s a character that never quite lives up to her potential, plus you can sense there are other motivations at play as Andrea is seemingly going out of her way to be nice to Bart.
Director Michael Cristofer - helming his first film since 2001’s erotic thriller “Original Sin” - doesn’t know which direction he wants to steer “The Night Shift.” There’s little about the flick that’s actually suspenseful, add to that a main character that has Aspergers which places new elements and emotional progression on the table that come up empty handed. It’s of no fault of this cast, especially Sheriden who tries to peel the layers of Bart’s wacky persona or De Armes, a welcome addition next to Helen Hunt who leaves a strong impact as Bart’s mother. “The Night Clerk” doesn’t go anywhere new or noteworthy and struggles to use the hip cast to its full advantage. This is a bargain bin, dollar store, thriller at best and will likely show up on a trivia card in the next decade asking which rising star (De Arme) found herself in a big fat dud circa 2020.
The Night Clerk is currently streaming on VOD platforms everywhere.