4/22/11

Midnight Movie (2008): Won't Keep You Up Nights

Hey folks. It’s Friday so that means another dose of Spring Slashers. This week, I thought I would check out a title that had been sitting around the house for some time. I picked up Midnight Movie as part of a 2 pack that also included the biker slasher Poker Run. While bikers getting hacked up didn't hold much interest for me, I thought that Midnight Movie sounded like it might be a little bit of cheesy fun. Now I was basing this solely on the synopsis because the cover art looked terrible and the only actor I vaguely recognized was Brea Grant from Heroes and Rob Zombie’s Halloween II. As it seemed to me, Midnight Movie looked like a supernatural slasher with a self referential nod to the genre. Done right, this could have been a great modern twist on classic slashers meets present day, but as I bought this film and another for three dollars, I didn’t hold out much hope.

Director Ted Radford (Arthur Roberts) had been institutionalized for years because of his obsession with his own film, The Dark Beneath. When a doctor decides to show Ted the film in hopes of making a breakthrough, the results are very different indeed. Seventy people in the psych ward are killed including, presumably, Ted Radford as well. Meanwhile, in a nearby small town, at a dumpy theater that only shows crappy movies because the boss is a cheapskate, The Dark Beneath is tonight’s feature. Settling down to watch the film, a group of teens, a biker on a date with his old lady, and the cop obsessed with the Radford case all think they’re in for a dose of schlock horror, but when patrons of the theater begin to get killed off, it seems that Radford’s screen slasher has made it to the real world.

Thankfully, since I didn’t hold out much hope, I didn’t get my hopes dashed. In fact I got just what I expected. This was the first film directed by Jack Messitt, who currently works as a camera operator for the TV series Bones, and it does show. It also shows that Messitt is more than a little fan of Wes Craven. Throughout there are several references to Cravens films The Nightmare on Elm Street and Shocker as well as Texas Chainsaw Massacre which the movie within a movie, The Dark Beneath, most resembles.  While Messitt doesn’t execute all his high concept ideas, Midnight Movie is no where near the biggest failure I’ve seen recently. (Craven’s recent My Soul to Take was not much (if any) better). No specific part of the film ever rises enough above the mundane to warrant a mention, but Midnight Movie does remain absolutely consistent throughout. The consistency is just at a very low level.

I did rather enjoy the design of the slasher. Though he did appear somewhat similar to Leslie Vernon in 2006’s Behind the Mask, it wasn’t enough to bother me. I did feel like his sharpened corkscrew pointy weapon left a bit to be desired, but perhaps it was chosen just because it would be weird and unwieldy. Unfortunately, it also meant that while there was plenty of blood in the kills, there was really only one or two different ways of killing someone with it. In general, I commend the film for its use of gore, something sadly used all too sparingly in many slashers. The biggest detraction (other than the abrupt and nonsensical ending) is that none of the actors were really all that good. While they were not generally hate-able  as so many other slasher film casts are, the scant 79 minute running time barely gives the film enough set up time much less lots of free moments for character development. That being said, the film takes a solid 30 minutes before it really gets going wherein it meanders about before getting the murders going.

On the scale of bad slasher films, Midnight Movie is no where near the top (or bottom however you want to think of it), but the fact remains that it still belongs on the bad list. There’s just too much in the film that is disjointed and doesn’t quite work. Looking back over this review, I failed to mention but one actor's name, and he’s only in the film less than five minutes. However, that is really the kind of non-entities these people are. Even the last survivor is not someone I had made a connection with through the script had been specifically set up for the audience to feel sympathy for the character. The clumsiness with which they went about it turned me off of it as much as anything else in the film. The only thing that saved it being rated a one was the best illustration of a "if you want them then you'll have to go through me" scene. In the end, I would have been better off watching one of the real, original midnight movies instead.

Bugg Rating





2 comments:

  1. You, Mr. Slasher Guy, are no Alien Queen Mother (However, if he had done all this slashing whilst preserving a football field full of his eggs, I'd have liked this movie).

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  2. Saw this last year. Horribly boring and the fact that they set it up for a sequel was facepalm worthy. I got the same feeling in my stomach like when I saw the end of Automaton Transfusion.

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