While doing some research in preparation of a second season of Slasher Series, I came across this 2008 slasher gem. Though unable to make the time to a proper video review, I decided to review it all the same. Those that read this blog should be well aware of my deep fondness for Slasher films. I can say that Midnight Movie is a decent slasher, with a large victim pool and memorable dread location. Though the killer leaves something to be desired, as do the kills.
Midnight Movie opens with a psychiatrist, trying to help one of his patients Ted Radford (Arthur Roberts), who has suffered a mental breakdown and thinks he’s the killer from his film The Dark Beneath that he made forty years prior. The psychiatrist has Radford watch his film in hopes that it will allow him to come to terms with what ever. This decision is contested by another psychiatrist Dr. Wayne (Michael Swan), but his objections are ignored and he leaves for the night. When he returns later he finds signs of a massacre with no bodies ever being found. Five years later, A small local theater is showing The Dark Beneath as a midnight special for the first time since the massacre at the psychiatric hospital. The manger Bridget (Rebekah Brandes) along with two employees Kenny (Shaun Ausmus) and Rachael (Brea Grant) prepare the theater and welcome the small group of attendees. Including a biker couple Harley (Stan Ellsworth) and Babe (Melissa Steach), Bridget’s boyfriend Josh (Daniel Bonjour), Josh’s friend Mario (Greg Cirulnick) and Mario’s girlfriend Samantha (Mandell Maughan). Tagging along is their awkward friend and horror buff Sully (Michael Schwartz). Also in attendance is Dr. Wayne and Detective Barrons (Jon Briddell), who both believe that Radford will make an appearance since this is first time in years that his film has been played and lastly Bridget’s little brother Timmy (Justin Baric), who sneaked in. As the film plays those attending notice strange occurrences such as the killer attacking those in the building. When they go to investigate they learn that the killer can leave the film and take his victims back with inside it with him. When the frightened survivors try to flee the theater they realize that what ever power has allowed the killer to escape his film has trapped them inside with him…
I love the set up for this film, and the split dread locations. The idea the killer can leave his film and also take others back with him is interesting to say the least. The fact that the film is Slasher adds a great element of a Slasher within a Slasher that I greatly enjoyed. I might of actually enjoyed The Dread Beneath more than Midnight Movie itself. The old, colorful theater plays wonderfully against the black and white world of the Dread Beneath. Creating a great visual contrast.
The victim pool was less amazing. I loved a small handful of the characters, Harley and Babe mostly. But Rachael and Timmy were also fun, if short-lived in Rachael’s case. I also love how the film sets up Bridget up as more of victim-hero over the standard final girl trope by giving her a darker back story filled with abuse at the hands of her father.
Though not all of Midnight Movie was great in my opinion. It has a number of weak spots that are glaring if you watch enough Slasher films. The killer Radford’s motives are never clearly defined. He just kills for the sake of killing, which ruins the inciting incident. He has no reason to go all murder happy, he’s just evil. Much in the same vein that Michael Myers is just murder happy. But Michael Myers still had a goal, to murder his sister providing some idea of intent or design. Here he just kills.
The weapon of choice wasn’t the greatest either. A spiral knife… thing, while it looks cool is never seen in use as the most of the violence with it is hidden or happens off-screen. But most of kills are with said weapon causing a lot of kills to feel old hat and uninventive. I would have liked to see more variety and creativity in the killers methods.
Lastly the gore leaves a lot to be desired. Midnight Movie feels incredibly tame in this regard, much like a PG-13 horror film might be. Even though it’s rated R it never really uses the rating. Giving the film a bit of a soft feeling. When you do see gore it looks fake and even comical, which is fine but doesn’t fit with rest of the films tone.
Final thoughts, I liked it. It had been a while since I watched a Slasher and it was great to get back to seeing the kind of films I love to watch. But the weak kills and a slow pace also made Midnight Movie a bit of slog to get through at times and with the uninventive kills gets even a tad monotonous. If your fan of the genre I would recommend it, if you’re looking to get into the genre there is defiantly better places to start. 7/10