The Night Clerk (2020) – Review, Summary (with Spoilers)

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Between seemingly exploiting its lead having Asperger’s to an uninspiring mystery, “The Night Clerk” struggles.

Between exploiting its lead having Asperger’s to an uninspiring mystery, “The Night Clerk” struggles.

Director(s) Michael Cristofer
Screenplay By Michael Cristofer
Date Released (Video On Demand) 2/21/2020
Genre(s) Crime, Drama, Mystery
Duration 1 Hour, 30 Minutes
Noted Cast
Bart Tye Sheridan
Andrea Ana De Armas
Detective Espada John Leguizamo
Karen Jacque Gray
Nick Johnathon Schaech

This content contains pertinent spoilers.

Plot Summary/ Review (Ending Spoilers & Sequel Potential on the 2nd Page)

Bart, a 23-year-old young man with Asperger’s, works in a hotel at the front desk. A job which he loves for alongside getting the opportunity to practice how to have a conversation, it allows him to bug rooms to further his development. However, with bugging a room which has a domestic violence situation, which later turns to murder, so comes the question of what does Bart know and, thanks to how the film is edited, we’re also left to wonder if he killed the woman?


Bart and Andrea’s Relationship

While not developed to the point it is capable of moving beyond Bart’s level of autism, there are moments between Andrea and Bart which seem sweet. Granted, outside of one time in the grocery store, the rest are shrouded by the perception Bart could murder someone, and includes Andrea being oddly forward with Bart. For example, her deciding to, in a public pool, swim topless after inviting Bart to hang out with her outside. Little things that you can tell are supposed to make Andrea somewhere between a damsel in distress or femme fatale, maybe, but the execution isn’t necessarily well done.

On The Fence

Bart’s Asperger’s Being Used To Enhance The Mystery

Bart having Asperger’s complicated “The Night Clerk” in both positive and negative ways. In terms of positives, I must admit keeping characters with autism locked into comedies or light-hearted dramas seems limiting and unfair. Yet, it is through “The Night Clerk,” you realize why it is a bit difficult to put them into other genres of film. Well, if you are using a person’s disability (?) as a gimmick.

Which is how Bart’s Asperger’s feels like. It is a means to complicate the narrative, and through Detective Espada, you are led to believe Bart could be violent since people with autism can get violent. And when you add in him watching people in their private rooms, so furthers a creep factor at the expense of those who are autistic and aren’t adept at what is socially acceptable.

Detective Espada (John Leguizamo) asking Bart questions.
Detective Espada (John Leguizamo)

Ultimately making it so you feel less uncomfortable with Bart and more with the movie that is exploring what it is required to, when it comes to Asperger’s, and then diving into the negative aspects to support the mystery and exploit stereotypes.


Advised For Those Who Like:

  1. Murder mysteries
  2. Can get past a film not being the most politically correct with a character who isn’t atypical

Would Watch Again? – One and Done

Rating: Mixed (Divisive)

While the murder mystery is intriguing, as well as Bart and Andrea’s relationship, how Bart’s Asperger’s is used to heighten the drama can make some uncomfortable. Especially considering Sheridan, from what we know, isn’t on the spectrum, and it seems Bart’s Asperger’s is more so a gimmick than anything else.

The Night Clerk Ending Spoilers

We learn in the end, the woman who died, Karen, her husband, Nick, killed her and Bart was strictly the person who discovered the body. Also, we find out Andrea, Bart’s crush, she is Nick’s mistress. One that is very much in love with Nick, despite him being abusive. But, with Detective Espada honing in on Bart, because of him coming off far too suspicious, and his own bias, Bart is forced to reveal all of the footage from watching Karen that night and then going on the run. Leaving us to watch as the cops come upon Nick’s car and prep to arrest him, with Andrea questioning what did Bart do?

Is A Sequel Possible?

The movie is rather open and shut. Bart left his mom’s basement and likely can’t return, for even if he didn’t murder Karen, his unauthorized surveillance is still illegal. And while we could explore what he did after, how he handled forced independence, maybe with working at another motel or hotel, this film doesn’t push the need for a sequel and nothing about Bart makes you clamor for another outing with him.

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