Zero-budget film projects are always an acquired taste. They don’t all sit well with every audience, but there’s no question that some of them definitely deliver, and Matt Merritte is currently poised to deliver his own with freshman feature, The Rage Peaks At Night.
The independently-produced thriller hails from Merritte’s Keep Forward Productions, and centers on Julia (Lauren Biazzo), a woman searching for her brother with the help of an ex-Triad, whilst being pursued by her former occult crime family, The Apostles, led by Judas (Tom Caserto).
As far as tone and vision descriptions go, Merritte’s definitely been by the Southeast Asian film bug. In chatting with FCSyndicate, he credited the influences of directors like Gareth Evans and Timo Tjahjanto, and even Malaysian director James Lee for his recent Sunny Pang action drama, Kill-Fist.
The project’s team responsible for the fight action and stunts are largely a cast effort. Caserto, who shares screen acting and stunt credits on respective titles like Buffalo Boys, Big Brother and Abduction, brought on fight choreographer Lang Yip who put in the work alongside cast members, including Koji Nishiyama and Kouryou Ngin, both who are actors as well as multifaceted industry stunt performers.
Ngin, who rejoins Merrite since their 2018 short, The Dragon Within, joins the pic as Arian, the former gangster who aides Julia’s quest. Biazzo recently appeared in a few episodes Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.
Also starring is actress Popra Nakayama, as seen in the photo atop this article, which we can share courtesy of Merritte. Nakayama plays Lady Scorpion, an assassin character designed aptly as a homage to a classic Meiko Kaji screen character from the Toei wheelhouse.
Development for The Rage Peaks At Night began in 2018 with cameras rolling in late 2019, with plans to shoot pick-up scenes this year eventually curtailed due to the Coronavirus pandemic that continues to grip multiple aspects of the film industry today.
The good news is still two-fold: Merritte is in the process of editing the footage he’s filmed so far, and he’s begun promoting his second shortfilm, Instrument Assassins, an action-packed crime thriller he already completed with actress Biazzo, and actor Eric C. Sun, before the pandemic set in. The trailer just debuted as of today and you can view it below, and should provide at least a tentative view of how Merritte’s application may bode for The Rage Peaks At Night.
Merritte tells us that Instrument Assassins may debut later this year, possibly on Vimeo in some capacity unless he can score some rounds in the festival circuit first. As for The Rage Peaks At Night, the pandemic has certainly prolonged things, and so any progress on production will likely acquire Merritte’s own oversight on safety provisions for his performers, essential for the Coronavirus-era filmmaker. It’s really up in the air at this point, but for a hungry, independent director who takes his cues from the greats, I personally didn’t want to pass this up putting a post together for this in hopes of seeing it finished.
Until then, follow Keep Forward Productions on Instagram, and stay tuned for more news on Merritte and The Rage Peaks At Night.