Gardens of the Night - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Gardens of the Night Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ January 31, 2009
Abducted by two pedophiles at the age of 8, Leslie is led into a life of prostitution, drug addiction and self destruction. If you have children, and even if you don't, this is a hard watch. Gardens of the Night is a good film about some very, very bad stuff.
Super Reviewer
½ June 4, 2013
Gardens of the Night follows an 8 year old upper-middle class girl, Leslie (Ryan Simpkin), who was abducted by two Pedophiles, Alex (Tom Arnold) and Frank (Kevin Zegers). After being coerced to getting in Alex's car, her whole childhood life turned out to be a living hell, alongside with Donnie (Jermaine Scooter Smith), who believed that his parents sold him to Alex for drugs. They create a connection with each other later on in the movie and promised to be together forever. Now that they are teenagers (played by Gillian Jacobs and Evan Ross), they moved to San Diego together, homeless, leading to drugs and prostitution.

Based on what was shown here, Gardens of the Night is a depressing but good movie that will make parents wanting to take care of their kids and look out for them. I didn't want to see it on Netflix at first because the summary felt depressing to read, and I didn't want to waste my time feeling sad. I'm an opened person, so I was like "what the heck. I should give it a chance." Glad I did. There are many kids out there who goes through messed up situation like this. It wasn't a perfect film, but this will hopefuly get prevent kids from not having a messed up life like those two main characters. No matter if it's a wealthy or a dangerous area, there are sickos everywhere we go.

The storyline started out ambiguously. It showed how she was abducted from her parents, and it showed Alex and Frank's motives. Some of the scenes are uncomfortable to look at because they can make you feel tense and self-conscious, but that depends on what type of person you are. Some of the scenes also find yourself feeling a little bit happy, whenever Leslie and Donnie interact with each other. You can really tell they have a strong bond together, especially when Donnie is attracted to her.

The problem about this movie was that it left out a few questions to be answered, such as the part where it cuts from the part where Leslie and Donnie were sleeping as kids to where they slept at a beach in San Diego as teenagers. I was puzzled by that because I didn't know what happened before they moved in San Diego without having a house of their own, or what happened to Alex and Frank. It really messed up the movie for me. The ending was another problem I had as well. It left me open for more to come, and I didn't know what to feel. Either happy or sad. Maybe it was trying to lead itself somewhere, but it wanted us to figure out ourselves on what happened next after it cuts to the credits.

The cast, although there are no stand outs, did a good job here. Tom Arnold departed from his usual comedic roles and did something new for a change. He played his character pretty well. Kevin Zegers came a long way throughout his career, and I didn't expect him to do a role like this. He wasn't too bad here, and I'm wondering why he hasn't been in any blockbuster movies, lately. It doesn't matter, anyway. Evan Ross and Gillian Jacobs had a good chemistry together on screen. They played their part pretty well. Other cast delivered a decent performance that will be admired by everyone in the future.

Gardens of the Night is an independent film that is a refreshment from the junk Hollywood is putting out. There are mixed reactions by critics and audiences alike, but I thought it was well-made but not perfect. So it's a both direction for me. I enjoyed it, but there are few things that were missing. It would have been a perfect movie if they did a little better with the story. This deals with Abduction and making the right decisions for yourself, and I hope people will learn something from this movie. It's not flawless, but it's worth looking at, if you're a parent or someone who loves kids so much, that you would do anything to prevent them from taking the wrong path.
Super Reviewer
July 22, 2008
MIFF '08: I liked the characters, and it had some pretty strong themes about family, but I left the cinema feeling unsatisfied. The first half kept me interested because it was ambiguous as to what was going to happen to the children, but then it skipped ahead to when they were older, and I was thinking, "Well, how did they escape? What happened to Alex and Frank?" So basically, the film makers omitted what would have been the most interesting part of the story. It was also a little predictable that the traumatic childhood of Leslie and Donnie led to a life of prostitution. And because so much time was spent showing their street life, the ending felt rushed - a shame because it was only then that I began to understand what this film was actually about. Sigh.
May 13, 2012
I probably would have gone with an "OK+" (3.5 Stars ) if it had an ending with a resolution. I'm not fond of open ended movies.
May 13, 2012
Incredible film. Disturbing, touching and profound movie. The little girl who plays young Leslie was awesome.
November 20, 2008
This is a very hard movie to watch. Tom Arnold was some real slime in this one. The ending was very satisfying although you have to feel the pain of the family that lost their little girl.
½ May 4, 2010
Surprisingly good movie. It was hard to watch but made you realize that this must happen more than what you think. Leslie was abducted at age 8 & lead to believe that her parents didn't want her back.
March 11, 2010
Effectively shows the gritty realities of child abduction and their repercussions on the victims. I especially enjoyed that the film's quality itself really conveyed the trauamas and desperation being experienced by the primary characters.
½ December 6, 2009
Poignant tale and rather disturbing. Terrific performances all around, thought provoking. Well filmed with good cinematography, It has a gritty style to it that really works. It can be depressing and I wasn't crazy about the direction the movie took, however overall it was quite good.
½ October 30, 2009
Truly an intense movie. At times it is difficult to watch, and yet it grabs & holds you. Makes you want to go grab & hug your kids & feel grateful they are not out on the streets alone & desolate.
July 26, 2008
tom arnold is priceless in this movie. this movie is not for the faint of heart, but not as gritty as youd expect.
½ May 16, 2009
I probably would have gone with an "OK+" (3 Stars) if it had an ending with a resolution. I'm not fond of open ended movies.
The acting was fairly decent, but it is a hard story to watch, and brings up lots of tough things to think about.
August 11, 2014
Sensitive but uncaring, Gardens of the Night shows no effort to push itself to be what it truly wants to be, but the final act is enough to leave you satisfied.
½ July 26, 2014
The film is important enough as a powerfully devastating look into the depravity of pedophiles who kidnap and never release their innocent victims, ruining their lives forever simply to gratify their twisted actions that it mitigates any of the movie critics that cite its shortcomings as a film. Watch it and urge others to watch it, particularly if you have any suspicion that someone you know may be one.
February 17, 2013
Disturbing. I would not let my child act in this movie. Hard to watch, and worth it to watch, but I wonder how this affects a young child actor or actress. Can't be good.
January 27, 2013
I was astonished to see Tom Arnold in a role like this. Hes always in slapstick comedies but I was impressed by his dramatic acting abilites in this film.
½ August 13, 2012
If it wasn't for John Malkovich and Gillian Jacobs, I wouldn't watch this.
February 5, 2012
A heartwrenching, eye opening film that is gratefully acted, directed, and performed with good emotional drama to show the horrors of the lives stolen childhood's.
March 22, 2011
Deeply disturbing, harrowing.
October 31, 2010
I guess the acting and directing was acceptable, but I don't have much taste for STORIES such as this one.
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