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Midnight Movie (2008)

DVD Cover (Peace Arch)
Genres:
Horror, Slasher Film, Supernatural Horror
Director:
Jack Messitt Jack Messitt
Starring:
Rebekah Brandes Rebekah Brandes
Daniel Bonjour Daniel Bonjour
Greg Cirulnick Greg Cirulnick
Mandell Maughan Mandell Maughan
Stan Ellsworth Stan Ellsworth

5.8 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by Chad
Added: March 27, 2009
Demons is one of those movies that I've always wanted to like, but for some reason, I just couldn't get behind it - in fact, I truly fail to see why it gets so much praise. I loved the concept, but the actual movie was complete and utter trash. Popcorn borrowed pieces of this idea and turned out to be an enjoyable affair, but I've always thought that the scenario still had the potential to make a great movie. Enter Midnight Movie, a film that takes this idea and decides to mix it up with the slasher films of the eighties. I have to admit that I didn't have high expectations for it due to a weak trailer, but my love for the concept compelled me to pick it up regardless. Surprisingly, it turned out to be a damned good film - not perfect, not iconic, and not a classic, but damned good.

Our tale begins back in the late sixties, where a fellow named Radford (Arthur Roberts) has decided to shoot a horror flick entitled "The Dark Beneath", a flick that plays out sort of like a cross between Scooby Doo and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and which also features our writing and directing hero in the leading role as the killer. It's your standard slasher fare and would have been forgotten to time if not for one thing: Radford went nuts during the shooting of the film and killed off his cast members. He was committed to an insane asylum, and moving ahead to five years ago, his doctor has decided that showing him this film again may help in his therapy. Unfortunately for the doctors, the film has some sort of supernatural curse surrounding it, and this private screening ends with Radford's disappearance... but not before he murders everyone else in the asylum, doctors and patients alike.

We once again jump ahead in time, and this time, we find ourselves in the present day. We also find that a local theater has decided to put together a midnight screening of Radford's cult classic, and before you know it, everyone in town is packed into this theater to catch the screening. Alright, I lied, it's a low turnout: there's theater manager Bridget (Rebekah Brandes), her little brother Timmy (Justin Baric), boyfriend Josh (Daniel Bonjour), lovebirds Mario (Greg Cirulnick) and Samantha (Mandell Maughan), horror fanatic Sully (Michael Schwartz), a burly biker named Harley (Stan Ellsworth), and his unnamed cycle slut (Melissa Steach). Detective Barrons (Jon Briddell) and Dr. Wayne (Michael Swan) have also showed up hoping that Radford will make an appearance at the first screening of his film since he disappeared.

Of course, we wouldn't have much of a movie if he didn't show up, so it should come as no surprise that things get a little strange just minutes into the movie. It all starts out innocently enough, up until the theater-goers start to get the feeling that they recognize that guy who is getting mauled by the killer on the screen. They have good reason for that sense of recognition: that particular fellow was the concession stand operator, and he got his while heading down to the basement to switch the syrup box for the soda machine. Nobody is able to put two and two together just yet, but when a much more recognizable face also gets murdered on the big screen after taking a potty break, they start to realize what is going on. Yes, this movie madman is able to come in and out of the screen at will to murder these patrons, and to make things just a little worse, the doors have been locked while the glass has some sort of supernatural spin on it causing it to become unbreakable. So, how in the hell do you defeat a serial killer who is able to retreat to the safety of the screen whenever he damned well feels like it? Good question.

When I first read about this movie, I was thinking the same thing that the sharper readers out there are likely pondering at this very moment: "Well, why don't they just (do something)?" I'm not going to point out what that "something" is in case the thought never crossed your mind, but if you think that you've got the ending figured out before you ever pop the disc in, think again. That idea does indeed come up, but it doesn't quite work like one would think. This is one of the things that I particularly enjoyed about the film, the way that it mixed together the standard slasher clichés that we know and love while also throwing us plenty of swerves to keep us guessing. When another cookie-cutter plot point comes into play later on in the film, I personally found myself groaning at the fact that they would so blatantly rip off another well-known film; when it's revealed that this also doesn't work out quite as well as the characters expected, I got a nice little grin on my face.

As for the killer himself, I do have to give the filmmakers credit for coming up with something that sticks to the roots of the slasher genre while also giving us something fresh in the process. Have you seen this basic killer a hundred times over in other films? You sure have, but there's just enough originality here to keep us interested. I'm going to have to disagree with some of the blurbs on the DVD case as I can't say that the character is iconic and nor can I say that he is "the new face of horror", but he definitely does a good job of keeping you entertained.

I also have to give the boys points for making the entire affair seem so polished. This is a semi-low budget affair (made for a cool million), so while it isn't exactly three buddies shooting each other in their backyard, it's a far cry from the money that Hollywood and even the Lions Gate folks would have access to. However, unless you factor in moments of spotty acting (which is par for the course in slashers anyway), the film never once reveals any budgetary concerns. I kept waiting for that one ultra-fake kill scene or that brief usage of wretched CGI, but none of that ever occurred. It's polished and slick enough for the theater-going fans, yet it's "hip" enough for the true slasher enthusiasts. I like that combination.

So, as I said in my opening paragraph, Midnight Movie isn't perfect, it's not iconic, and I don't think that it'll go down in history as a genre-defining classic, but it is damned good nonetheless. It brings a handful of laughs when it's supposed to, it gives us a great killer, and it provides a storyline that has just enough originality to make it worthwhile. What more could you ask for? 8/10.
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Optimus Prime #1: Optimus Prime - added 04/14/2009, 07:33 PM
Watched this last night. Nothing I'll probably ever watch again, but it wasn't bad at all. Perfect length and was never boring or anything. Story was kinda lame in my opinion but it was original enough to be entertaining. Looked like there'll be a sequel of some sort. 7.5/10.
Ginose #2: Ginose - added 04/29/2009, 06:47 PM
Meh. Original in ways, but the lack of real gore (aside from the toe scene I didn't get much of a rise out of this, at all, and if a gore movie doesn't give me a hard-on then it's doing it wrong) and the overlying POINTLESSNESS OF HALF THE SHIT THAT HAPPENS drug this down ALOT for me... Still, the concept was nice, as was the weapon and overlying feel of the movie.

6.2/10...
..."Demons" was much better.
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