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Gardens of the Night

3.8 out of 5 stars 98 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

In the most powerful role of his career, Tom Arnold plays Alex, who, with his partner Frank (Kevin Zegers) lures eight-year-old Leslie (Ryan Simpkins) into a car, changing her life forever. For seven years, she and another child, Donnie, live in horror, with no one to turn to but each other. Eventually abandoned by their captors, Leslie (now played by Gillian Jacobs) and Donnie (Evan Ross), struggle with a hand-to-mouth existence on the streets of San Diego. Haunted by their pasts, it seems reality for Leslie and Donnie is being bought by strangers and never going home. Also featuring unforgettable performances by John Malkovich and Jeremy Sisto.

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Product Details

  • Actors: Gillian Jacobs, John Malkovich, Tom Arnold, Jeremy Sisto, Harold Perrineau Jr.
  • Directors: Damian Harris
  • Writers: Damian Harris
  • Producers: Damian Harris, R.D. Robb, Pascal Franchot, Joseph Dain
  • Format: NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Unrated
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Fisher Klingenstein Films
  • DVD Release Date: August 29, 2012
  • Run Time: 110 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (98 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001L8YQ64
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #97,691 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Gardens of the Night" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Steve Kuehl VINE VOICE on March 21, 2009
Format: DVD
As a parent, I understand the importance of the content regarding children being kidnapped domestically and ending up lost in the sex/slave rings, but man this was a difficult watch. Even harder than Holly (also trailered on this DVD).

The story follows a young, upper-middle class girl (played incredibly by Ryan Simpkins, who coincidentally blew me away with her brief adult-style performance in Balls Out) as she is lured by a pedophile into an irreversible life of long term abuse and abandonment. The film flashes between her youth and later adult existence on the streets. No part of this topic is easy to watch, but everyone plays their roles adequately. Tom Arnold is absolutely scary as the pedophile, he was completely believable to the extreme.

The video and sound quality were fine, and the supplements cover the array of related topics. The deleted scenes were thankfully cut out (even more graphic), but it did show the obvious confusion towards the end of the film in the writing and editing. Malkovich and Sisto already had abbreviated parts, but as I was watching the end Michelle Rodriguez' part seemed strangely miscut, but then left in the deleted scenes, as were the alternate parent actors' roles. The credit listings supplement to help people learn about this topic were too "edgy" and distracting, it could have been made more straightforward and a great deal clearer.

An important awareness content film, hardly rewatchable, a few faults here and there, but the two performances of the main girl are worthy of acknowledgment.
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Format: DVD
I suppose this is a good movie. Writer/Director Damien Harris does a fine job of hitting all the points the right way. I guess my problem is the story itself. It certainly isn't fun to watch. I know there are people out there doing the things that are done in this movie, but I don't need to see it.

A young girl gets kidnapped by a man (well played by Tom Arnold) and his buddy who first use her in internet child porn and then for prostitution. This is scary and painful to watch. What makes it tougher to view is the Tom Arnold character. He isn't a nasty, mean, drooling individual. He does seem to care for her at some level, and you get the hint his upbringing wasn't very joyous so he's not so easy to write off. He has also kidnapped a young African American boy for the same purposes and these two kids realize they are all they have and form a bond.

You skip ahead some 10 years or so and the two (Leslie and Frank) are still together. But now the Tom Arnold character and his buddy are gone and the kids are on the streets. They smoke, drink, do drugs and turn tricks. The people they hang with are the same. It's an ugly realization.

Through her trying to get into a shelter, the administrator, played by John Malkovich, finds out who she is and is able to send her home and reunite her with her family. I won't spoil it for you but let's say that Hollywood is no where to be found here.

Again. This is good. The writing, acting, camerawork, sound and music are as good as they need to be to get this done and done well. I don't know if it could have been done any better, but darn. I need hope in my life and you won't find it here.
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Format: DVD
I gave this movie 5 stars because of the phenomenal acting. You will cry when you watch it. It's the type of film that is very difficult to watch, but you can't stop watching it. The questions I have are: What happened to Alex and Frank and how did Leslie and Donnie get away from them? Does Leslie ever find Donnie? And it would have been nice to see Leslie and Donnie's lives as adults. Despite the lack of details, it was a great independent movie. I'm not sure it's worth buying, because you will most likely only watch it once.
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By Darren on September 14, 2014
Format: Amazon Video Verified Purchase
Perhaps director Damian Harris felt the movie spoke for itself and therefore didn't provide any statistics in either opening or ending graphic-cards. He should have, because the statistics are important. The following are the numbers that are the foundation of the tragic story depicted in this film. My source is the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children:

-- 800,000 children reported missing in 1999. First of all, how about an update -- that was 15 years ago. Second, the numbers below can sadly encourage us to round up that number to 1 million, I think.
-- 200,000 children were abducted by family members (not what happens in this movie)
-- 58,000 children were abducted by nonfamily members (which does happen in this movie)
-- A more recent number: over 460,000 entries for missing children were entered in the FBI's database on this crime in 2013 alone
-- In murder cases, the murder occurs within 3 hours of the abduction in three-quarters of all cases
-- Child pornography has skyrocketed 83 percent since 1994 (take a bow, internet)
-- The increase in child trafficking between 2004 and 2008 (when this film was released): 1,000 percent (take another bow, internet)
-- Some good news: the AMBER Alert program run by the Dept. of Justice has recovered 702 children since 1996
-- And more good news: the NCMEC reports that their recovery rate has increased from 62% in 1990 to 97% today. It's getting harder for the monsters to keep these kids hidden indefinitely, or for the kids to stay lost on the street forever.

But, still: 1,000,000 kids abducted and/or exploited. In a nation of 74 million children, that's 1.5%. That's a national calamity, and is as important a subject as any for a movie.
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