James Avalon's 2nd Wicked Noir Feature 'Dark Is the Night' Debuts

James Avalon's 2nd Wicked Noir Feature 'Dark Is the Night' Debuts

LOS ANGELES — Wicked is releasing the first installment of director James Avalon's Wicked Noir feature "Dark Is the Night" starring Kenna James, Kiara Cole, Seth Gamble and Nathan Bronson.

Produced by Axel Braun and scripted, shot and edited by Avalon, the "moody, tightly-plotted psychodrama follows a bored housewife (James) as she uses her arcane skills and feral sexuality to explore the troubled mind of a mysterious man to whom she's rented a room (Gamble)," explained a rep.

"On the surface, this enigmatic stranger appears to be the ideal new tenant. He’s soft-spoken and charming, everything her loutish, insensitive husband (Bronson) isn’t," the rep continued. "The tension in their marriage is made palpable through the couples’ sex scene; James ravishes Bronson in a torrid encounter that is by turns sensual, unquenchable and emotionally raw."

Avalon noted that the script for "Dark Is the Night" is the culmination of a story he has developed over the course of 10 years.

"I pitched it to virtually every studio that produces features, and they all turned it down, saying it was too dark, too twisted or that they were uninterested in the film noir angle, or in releasing a four-character film," Avalon recalled.

The shoot was his first time directing James.

"It’s easy to see why she’s become the superstar she is today," he said. "She brings incredible focus and professionalism to every aspect of her performance; you can count on her coming to set impeccably prepared.

"While I’ve worked with Seth before, the same qualities apply; he brings a massive amount of focus and research to any part you give him," the director continued. "This part is one of the more unusual roles he’s played. To paraphrase 'True Detective,' 'the world is a veil and the face you wear is not your own.' Seth took that conceit and made it wholly his own."

Avalon expects that even Cole's most ardent fans "are going to be blown away by what she brings to 'Dark Is the Night.'"

"It was a given that she’d deliver a sexually explosive performance, but the nuances to her acting are nothing short of revelatory," Avalon noted. "And I can say the same thing about Nathan; many of the roles he’s performed for other studios have been purely sexual, or comedic and ‘goofy’ in tone. He’s been undervalued and underused in this industry, but frankly, I couldn’t have picked a better actor to bring Kenna's boorish asshole of a husband to life. He was clearly excited to be cast against type and given a real character he could flesh out and build from the ground up. He’s a great performer in every sense of the word."

Avalon additionally singled out the project's art direction by Kylie Ireland as "flawless."

"She understood instinctively what we were going for in terms of a timeless, neo-noir look," he said. "We play with negative space a lot in this movie, and she and Shaun Rivera, who lit her sets under my direction, were key reasons we pulled it off so successfully."

Avalon thanked Axel Braun for "recognizing that enthusiasm for a project is the most important thing you bring to the table."

"He is so talented and so passionate about filmmaking, yet as a producer, he doesn’t micromanage you or the talent," noted the director. "If you and your cast are genuinely excited about a project, he gives you full creative control without interference. He saw 'Dark Is The Night' as the perfect Wicked Noir movie, as it has all the elements of a classic film noir melodrama — betrayal, revenge, shifting alliances — everything the classics of the genre, or new updates like Guillermo del Toro’s 'Nightmare Alley,' are known for.

"Yet I was careful to set it in a time seemingly "outside of time,'" he added. "There were references to cell phones and tablets in early drafts of the screenplay that I eliminated prior to locking in the shooting script. And when modern devices do appear, like a high-end still camera, I added a 70-year-old lens to it to give it an off-kilter, retro look.”

The opening installment of "Dark Is the Night" is now available as a member exclusive on Wicked.com.

Follow James Avalon and Wicked Pictures on Twitter.

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