In a not-so-distant future ravaged by war and disease, a mother loses her daughter to a state-run school when in despair. A while later, she finds herself in a place to fight for what she believes in and try to get her daughter back.
Written and directed by Danis Goulet, Night Raiders takes themes that will be very familiar to many with the world in a state of controlled chaos, at war, violent, and with powers that be looking to control the lower financial classes. Here, the story also adds the lens of being seen through the eyes of a First Nation mother in the story and director behind the camera. The film takes an approach to the future that is almost exactly like today could be, so it becomes a film that connects better than most futuristic/post-apocalyptic/future war films. There is something here, an honest in the writing and directing that gives the film something more to get the audience on board and get the film, and its message, across.
The cast here is not a lot of people most will be familiar with. In the lead of Niska is Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers who does phenomenal work as a mother stuck in a situation where desperation sets in and she has to make a difficult decision to save her daughter. This is followed by a lot of other decisions that are not easy and changes that add stress to her already stressful life. The work of Tailfeathers is something else here and it needs to be seen. Playing her daughter Waseese, a child wise beyond her years due to what she had to grow up in, is Brooklyn Letexier-Hart who works fantastically well next to Tailfeathers and later on her own. She’s got talent and a natural ability to communicate a lot with the audience even when she doesn’t have a lot of words. The rest of the cast is also on point, playing with nuances just right or being down right cold (which some of the parts require). It all comes together so well here; it becomes hard to single anyone out besides the two leads.
The look the film for Night Raiders is that of a grey, sad future that has been torn up by war and technology. The cinematography by Daniel Grant helps great that look, but also the emotions of the film. There is a desolation and a desperation in the images presented to the viewer, what is shown matches the writing and the performances, letting the characters shine, but also supporting them.
Night Raiders is a film that is a bit grey on all fronts with just the right mix of emotions and story while having a message that matters here. The film is one that shows a future that is post-war and a bit post-apocalyptic, but it makes sense in terms of the future some see as coming soon for the population of Earth. There is a lot in this film and it is all up to the viewer to make of it what they will. It’s a powerful film with great performances, writing, and directing.