It’s that time of the year again. The month of October is upon us. So to celebrate, we at Full Circle Cinema put together another curated, month-long series with Screen Screams. This year, we will be checking our clocks as we wait in anticipation for the forbidden delight we call “the midnight movie”. And with midnight movies comes a variety of projects that are perhaps too niche for the masses. Today, we take a trip back to 2008 and break down Jack Messit’s Midnight Movie.
Imagine a horror film that’s interactive, and by interactive, I mean the killer can transport to you and murder you. It’s a very insane premise, and it is at the center of Midnight Movie. It is a super slasher gorefest that will turn anybody’s stomach. This film is the embodiment of cult films, it takes everything you love or hate about a crappy horror film and amplifies it. The grainy film, the terrible jokes, horrible acting, and a villain only a mother could love. It’s so bad, it’s good.
Midnight Movie follows a group of people at a midnight showing of Dark Beneath, a film by Ted Radford (Arthur Roberts). Midnight Movie opens with Radford at a psych ward, and Dr. Wayne (Michael Swan) showing Radford Dark Beneath against the wishes of Detective Barrons (Jon Briddell). Radford ends up doing some sort of ritual and disappearing. After a bloody massacre to open the film, Radford is missing.
Five years after the opening scene, Dark Beneath is being shown at a local theater as a midnight feature. We have our manager Bridget (Rebekah Brandes), her boyfriend Josh (Daniel Bonjour), Dr. Wayne, Detective Barron, the theater staff, and patrons. The film starts and all hell breaks loose as the killer from Dark Beneath begins to interact with the audience in the movie.
Jack Messit – who also directs – and Mark Garbett’s screenplay completely dumps like 95% of all horror tropes and takes on a life of its own. The Dark Beneath film the characters are watching at the movies also dumps the tropes. This is just a chaotic slaughter-fest that has no rules, and that’s what makes it unique. The 79-minute runtime (82 in the extended cut) has fast character development and redemption arcs that are blurs if you blink too fast. The film falls flat towards the end, and the audience pays for it extremely.
The film editing by Kristoffer Villarino is somewhere the film doesn’t lack. It’s cut together perfectly and blends the two films well, most definitely a strong point for the point. The score by Penka Kouneva is very dramatic, but it fits the bill. It makes you uncomfortable as the movie itself is uncomfortable. This is a strange film with an awesome concept. You’re constantly bouncing between the film and the real world.
The acting is the worst part of this film. Brandes does her best, but the movie is just so chaotic it’s hard to take anything seriously in Midnight Movie. The Killer (Lee Main) is a brutal serial killer that uses a metal spiral to kill his victims. The way he moves is Myers or Voorhees-like, he brutalizes his victims and tortures them. He’s a wonderful villain that has a horrible script he and the main cast must carry. Cast members Greg Cirulnick (Josh), Mandell Maughan (Samantha), Melissa Steach (Babe), Stan Ellsworth (Harley), and Justin Baric (Timmy) are all just flat-out terrible.
Midnight Movie deserved much better. The concept of this film is extremely fun, and it’s entertaining, to say the least. It’s just a poorly executed script and a very bad cast. That’s what makes a midnight movie though, it’s a cult film with a great following no matter how bad it is. There are people that hate or love it regardless. This is a film that’s about Cult Films, the urban myths that follow them, and the people that don’t take them seriously. It’s a short, tall tale full of fun, and insanity. – Rascal F. Kennedy
Midnight Movie is available to rent or buy on Amazon Prime and Blu-Ray.