USA Title: Dark of the Night

 (Gaylene Preston, New Zealand, 1985) 89 minutes


Director: Gaylene Preston
Producer: Robin Laing, Gaylene Preston
Screenplay: Gaylene Preston, Geoff Murphy, Graham Tetley,
based on the story by Elizabeth Jane Howard
Photography: Thom Burstyn
Editor: Simon Reece
Music: Jonathan Crayford
Heather Bolton (Meg)
David Letch (Mr Wrong)
Margaret Umbers (Samantha)
Suzanne Lee (Val)
Gary Stalker (Bruce)
Danny Mulheron (Wayne)
Kate Harcourt (Mrs Alexander)

Reviews and notes

1985 Wellington

Mr Wrong skilfully succeeds at both self-reflexivity and social comment. In addition, it’s a superbly entertaining thriller. Its tight and well-scripted plot exploits many of the cliches and conventions of the genre, while simultaneously turning an incisive and perceptive eye on the ideological substructure of those very conventions. Preston spotlights the inbuilt sexism of the genre and illuminates its uncomfortable preoccupations with power, sex and death, and some of the nastier links between that unholy trinity that permeates the dominant ethos
- Jo Seton, “Meg and the Space Invaders - Mr. Wrong as a Feminist Thriller”, Illusions, no.2, Winter 1986.

Both the single storyline and the movie's beguiling clarity grip, not your thoughts, but your nerves. It pitches its claim for success as entertainment first, and that against your emotions. It brings on a quivering from fears which the 'victim' readily shares with the audience, while a quirky, fresh-witted script fixes enjoyment uppermost...

Heather Bolton as Meg is great casting... She's so easy to like as a feminine feminist. And since Bolton's Meg is fun to watch, you feel like you're with her altogether as she resists becoming the victim of any number of red herrings. Her qualities of sparkling-eyed friendliness and goodwill prescribe how the film as a whole affects you.
-Gilbert Peterson, The Dominion.

In some of the best and brightest of New Zealand documentaries, Gaylene Preston has exhibited a flair for demonstrating that things are not always as we commonly perceive them, so it's not surprising that her first fiction feature may sound like a contradiction in terms; a thriller with very little in the way of explicit blood-letting or special effects. Heather Bolton is perfectly cast as Meg, a nice gal from the country who moves to the city and declares her autonomy by buying herself a lovely large Jag. Gradually she is forced to acknowledge that this car is making some most uncarlike noises and that it's making her the object of the attentions of a thoroughly unpleasant young man who seems to materialise out of thin air.

It would be more than unusually unfair to reveal much more of the engrossing plot which is divulged in true thriller/ghost story fashion and makes ample use of its many red herrings, each of which has a neat ideological kickback. Thriller expectations are juxtaposed and interplayed with the expectations and fears of everyday life with which Preston displays a genial, perceptive familiarity. As the mystery thickens, MR WRONG builds up into a funny, nervy funk. What our heroine's most scared of is paranoia and we're given every reason to identify with her every inch of the way as she refuses to become anybody's victim. Preston kids along the thriller conventions she clearly enjoys, springing twists in them and interrogating the genre for its inbuilt sexism all the while treating her audience to a thoroughly spooky good time.
-Bill Gosden, Wellington Film Festival, 1985.

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