‘Nite Nite’ Review And Exclusive Interview With Writer-Director Chad Meisenheimer

Review of the first film in Chad Meisenheimer’s retro-horror trilogy, and the writer and director talks about how he created the story, and what we can look forward to in the next installment.

Poster of one of the best horror movies of 2017, and headshot of writer/director Chad Meisenheimer.
MaxiMeise Productions/Steven Ng

Review of the first film in Chad Meisenheimer’s retro-horror trilogy, and the writer and director talks about how he created the story, and what we can look forward to in the next installment.

Considered one of the best horror movies of 2017 (in the short film category), Nite Nite has been garnering rave reviews. If you like horror movies with an old-school feel, then this 2017 gem is for you. Written and directed by Chad Meisenheimer, the horror short has a runtime of just under the three-minute mark (not including the credits). The premise for this horror gem is simple: a young boy (played by Brady Bond) thinks a monster is under his bed, and his babysitter (portrayed by Tommie Vegas) thinks it’s just his imagination — and that’s part of the reason it works so well.

Some genre shorts try to stuff every horror movie trope all in a few minutes of film, making the movie feel too busy or forced. But Nite Nite avoids that pitfall by staying focused on the point of the story and using subtle nuances to create fun suspense, rather than jump scare after jump scare. The story takes place in 1985, and the score (reminiscent of horror movies like Halloween and Fright Night) sounds like it was pulled straight from that year.

This charming short has an essence of horror movies from days gone by, but the stylistic direction makes the premise feel fresh. Bond gives a solid performance as the 7-year-old boy trying to convince his babysitter that the monster is real, and Vegas is charming as the skeptical babysitter. Chad’s vision takes the audience on a journey that genre fans are sure to enjoy, and the ending delivers a satisfying payoff that will likely leave horror fans wanting more.

Poster from one of the best horror movies 2017 'Nite Nite.'
  MaxiMeise Productions

If you enjoy horror movies like When a Stranger Calls, or if you’re a fan of the Goosebumps series, then Nite Nite is right up your alley. This 2017 horror feature is currently making the rounds at a variety of film festivals, but Nite Nite is likely going to be available on VOD by the end of the year.

Chad Meisenheimer has been making movies professionally for 14 years and acting for 20 years, but his bread and butter is that as a comedian and comedy writer. Though he has been making films for well over a decade, Chad’s work has gone seemingly unnoticed. But with his genre masterpiece garnering well-deserved attention and rave reviews, with many considering it one of the best horror movies of 2017, Nite Nite is Meisenheimer’s breakthrough film.

This reporter had the pleasure of talking with Chad, and the filmmaker discussed Nite Nite, how he first got a passion for making movies, and what future projects we can look forward to from this talented artist.

Carter Lee: “When did you first fall in love with movies, and what was the first horror film that really stuck to you?”

Chad Meisenheimer: “It sounds really funny, but I knew I wanted to direct when I was 6-years-old. I always wanted to make movies. When I was younger, I would go to my grandparent’s house to watch movies. I just never got into Disney-like movies that other kids watched. So, they would always have American Movie Classics on when, you know, they actually played real movies.

“So, I would watch all the old-school movies featuring John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart, Cagney, and Eddie G. Robinson. I grew up watching those films, that’s kind of like my lexicon of movies. Well, one day my grandfather fell asleep, and Psycho was on. I was so enthralled with the great movie. I was 6-years-old, but I knew it was fake.

“My grandmother walked into the room right at the moment of the shower scene. She started flipping out on my grandfather who was asleep. I looked at them and thought, ‘Oh man, if I could get reactions like that just from images—I want to do that!’ And that’s kind of the start of me wanting to direct.”

CL: “In Nite Nite, you chose to go with the classic monster-under-my-bed theme. What about that premise appealed to you?”

CM: “I’ve always been a big fan of ’80s films. One of the horror movies that I love is Monster in the Closet. It’s this over-the-top campy Troma film. And they had a couple of sequences where I thought it would be interesting if they focused on that more, and also, my childhood. You always have that nostalgic feel like when you’re a child, like ‘oh no, there’s something under my bed.’ What goes bump-in-the-night type of thing. So, I kind of thought that was a fun idea to do.

“I wrote it as a retro-horror trilogy. I wanted to do something different that’s not the typical horror film. So, I thought I would do one set in the ’80s, one in the ’90s, and one in the ’70s. I decided to do the ’80s one first and wanted to keep it simple. And I asked, ‘what creeped me out as a kid? Oh, a monster in the closet, or under the bed.’ And I just went off that idea.”

Scene from one of the best horror movies 2017 'Nite Nite.'
  MaxiMeise Productions

CL: “How did casting Tommie Vegas come about? She did a really good job, and I felt her performance really leaped off the screen.”

CM: “Yeah, she’s just great. Her and I became friends through a film festival organizer. She looked at the scripts for the horror trilogy I wrote, and she actually wanted to do a different one. She usually does more slasher movies, and the ’70s one is a slasher. But I was like, ‘No, no, no. I want to cast you in this one. I want to shine a different light as an actor for you.’ She was like, ‘Okay, fine, I’ll do it.’ And she’s actually the one who pushed me to make these movies.”

Scene from one of the best horror movies 2017 'Nite Nite.'
  MaxiMeise Productions

Chad is currently in pre-production for his first feature-length film, Faceless starring Tommie Vegas, and in pre-production for the second installment of his retro-horror trilogy, Little Girl in White. Nite Nite was fully funded on Kickstarter, and Chad is hoping to do the same for this next installment through IndieGoGo.

CL: “Tell us a little bit about Little Girl in White.”

CM: “This is a totally different style. We’re shooting it like an Asian horror-cinema film set in the early ’90s. So, I’m going back and watching all these Japanese and Korean horror movies. I’m thinking, ‘how can I pull this off?’ So, I flipped the script on this one. You know how Americans are; we make Asian horror movies that have the good old white family in Japan being haunted by an Asian girl. So, I cast an Asian family being haunted by a little white girl.”

With his horror story Nite Nite receiving an abundance of positive attention, and with several upcoming titles in the works, more and more eyes are on Chad’s movies. In closing, this reporter asked the multi-talented artist what his ultimate goal is.

CM: “My goal is to direct major studio movies. A lot of my friends, we all grew up making movies together, they’re like, ‘Indie films, indie films, I just want to be an indie filmmaker!’ Okay, that’s cool. Indie filmmakers are great. But I grew up watching old movies made by Steven Spielberg and George Lucas. And I grew up wanting to be like those guys. I want to direct an actual studio feature. I’m not going to name the names of the studios, but I now have major studios reaching out to me because of Nite Nite.”

After breaking his back in the industry for over 20 years, and after creating one of the most entertaining horror movies of 2017, Chad Meisenheimer is starting to turn heads. To keep up with actor and all of his work, and to find out when Nite Nite is available for public consumption, you can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.