*** ½ Out of 5
Tagline- The New Face of Horror.
Release Date- October 24th, 2008
Running Time- 80-Minutes
Screenplay- Mark Garbett & Jack Messitt
Director- Jack Messitt
Starring- Rebekah Brandes, Daniel Bonjour, Stan Ellsworth, Melissa Steach, Justin Baric
Midnight Movie was released on the festival scene in 2007 and got a limited theatrical release in 2008 and I actually avoided seeing the film figuring it would be the typical low budget film of its era. Around the time Scream came out in 1996 the B-movie was starting to fade and in the years since there are a few films that can be labeled B-movies, but the good portion are Z-grade schlock. However for some reason I decided to watch Midnight Movie and I very much expected a film I would probably dislike or at the very least a film that maybe decent, but would have zero desire to ever see again. But after viewing it I ended up really enjoying it as it works as both a clever satire and legit horror film as well and it’s a movie that every so often I revisit and have a great time with it. Midnight Movie draws inspiration from various low budget films of the 70s and 80s and rather than just simply rehash these films, Midnight Movie has its own style. Most people that have seen this have compared it to the 1985 Lamberto Bava cult classic Demons and while sure there might be a couple of things in common, but both films are also quite different and would make for a fun double feature.
Midnight Movie has built up a cult following, but I also feel the film deserves more of a following and sadly I can see this film as the years pass being a forgotten film, which is quite unfortunate. While I wouldn’t rate Midnight Movie as one of my all time favorite horror films, but it is a film I greatly enjoy as this is a film that you can sit down and just have fun with from beginning to end. However in-between the fun factor it’s also a legit horror film. Any chance I get to recommend Midnight Movie I always do. Midnight Movie is one of those films for me at least that I can watch a number of times and never get bored of it.
The plot is set a movie theater where a showing of a cult movie called the Dark Beneath is gonna be shown for the first time in decades, but once the film rolls the killer in the movie is able to enter the real world and bring his victims into the movie.
The script by Mark Garbett & Jack Messitt is quite fun and well written for the most part. Garbett & Messitt write a film that works as both a legit horror picture, but also a clever satire of the horror genre. The satirical moments are a bit different than say something like Scream, but it does have a couple of moments within that style. The biggest complaint I have with slasher movies and horror in general is it seems everyone has gotten kind of lazy and create inter-changeable characters that are simply there to die and while I don’t look for deep character development in a slasher movie, I do however hope for characters that at least have their own identities and if they have a little depth even better. Garbett & Messitt create some really fun and entertaining characters with some actually having some depth, but there was also potential for more such as two of the characters being victims of child abuse. I actually liked most of the characters and rooted for them to survive and others such as Mario (Greg Cirulnick) I couldn’t wait to see him get what was coming to him. My favorite character was Harley (Ellsworth) who at first is an obnoxious jerk and I hoped he would get a nice gory death, but as the movie goes on he becomes heroic and likable and became my favorite character in the film. I really appreciated the fact Garbett & Messitt actually take the time to give the characters an identity rather than create faceless victims, which would be the easy thing to do. All the characters in someways added to the picture and there were several that when died I was disappointed. However even though I really liked the script it wasn’t perfect and the real world colliding with the film world does lead to some moments in the final act, which get a little over the top and while its never bad, but it does run out of steam a bit. However despite some issues in the final act Garbett & Messitt write a screenplay that’s fun with solid and entertaining characters.
Jack Messitt besides co-writing also makes his directorial debut and while Midnight Movie may not go down as one of the great debuts, Messitt does succeed in making a highly entertaining movie. From the very start of the film Messitt establishes a fun tone and is able to maintain it throughout. With a running time of only 79-minutes, Midnight Movie is well paced and never outstays it’s welcome. The first 20-minutes or so, Messitt develops the characters rather than the typical slasher film where characters are introduced than knocked off rather quickly. While Jack Messitt crafts a film with a light and fun tone it’s also a legit horror film with some strong moments of suspense, which is assisted by establishing the characters. The death scenes are well staged with just the right amount of carnage. Throughout the film Jack Messitt balances the fun factor and suspense scenes perfectly as neither takes away from the other. However it’s the final act when the film stumbles just a bit. As mentioned it does get a little over the top and most complaints I’ve seen in reviews often cite the final act. We also get a little shift in tone as Messitt creates a couple of scenes that are quite dark and sinister, which do feel a little of place. With that said even though the film does slightly drop-off a bit in the final act, Jack Messitt always keeps the film watchable.
Overall Midnight Movie was a truly fun film with solid characters and a fun tone to the film and while the final act not only takes a little darker approach, but the ending is also a little bleak, which didn’t fully fit what came before. Also as mentioned the final act does get a little over the top with the real world and movie world, but despite that issue I had it doesn’t take away from my enjoyment of the film. Midnight Movie may not go down as a genre great, but for what’s its worth its a fun and exciting film. Midnight Movie was released on blu-ray in an R-rated form than later put out on DVD in an uncut version. I’ve only seen the blu-ray as there’s enough gore and I didn’t feel the need to downgrade in audio and video.