In a whole other league to the regular slew of sex comedies usually churned out by the Hollywood machine – that are often simply raunchy for the sake of it – The Overnight (2015) – director Patrick Brice’s follow-up to Creep – is an unexpected delight. Effortlessly warping dark comedy and drama, with a delicious sprinkling of kink, there’s much awkwardly hilarious fun to be had as boundaries are pushed and secrets revealed. New to Los Angeles, young couple Emily (Taylor Schilling) and Alex (Adam Scott) are invited to a night-time playdate with Kurt (Jason Schwartzman) and Charlotte (Judith Godreche) when their son makes friends with their boy at the park.
Initially nice and innocent, the night takes many unexpected turns once the kids have fallen asleep and the alcohol – not to mention drugs – starts to flow. It quickly becomes clear that Kurt and Charlotte may be hoping for more than they originally let on. Sharp and deliriously funny, The Overnight owns its trim runtime, relishing in narrative deviances that keep both the characters and audience on their toes. Brice, who also penned the script, takes pleasure in Emily and Alex’s fundamental discomfort at the dark path the night begins to follow. It’s evident to both of them that something is amiss, but neither is aware of what it is and therefore politely engage in the increasingly unusual requests of their hosts – half-naked photography and swimming pool skinny dipping, to name but a few – before the thrill of it starts to take them over.
As risqué and sexualised as the film is at times, it’s always done to serve a purpose. The absurd evening’s events not only takes the two relationships in interesting directions, but also forces personal fears to be confronted and overcome. The film is well-packaged, the direction is sure-footed and Julian Wass’ score heightens the tension in all the right places – but the commitment to the characters is key. It’s here that Brice breaks down the standard sex comedy tropes, peeling back the comedic visage and exposing an honest relationship drama in which tough realisations are made and tender moments shared. All four cast members deliver excellent performances, Brice’s material enabling them to have fun while also tapping into interesting psychological nooks and crannies. An extremely funny, incredibly awkward comedy, it is The Overnight‘s tremendous sweetness that makes it the stand-out film it is.