February 26, 2018 Midnighters (Movie Review)
Oh! What tangled webs we weave when first we practice to deceive. In Midnighters – a new Thriller from the good folks at IFC Midnight, which arrives to select theaters, as well as on VOD and Digital HD on Friday, March 2, 2018 – everyone has a secret and no one is to be trusted!
On New Year’s Eve, anticipating an upswing in their future together, Jeff (Dylan McTee: Happy Pills short 2014, Sweet/Vicious series) and Lindsey (Alex Essoe: Starry Eyes 2014, The Neighbour 2016) Pittman head home from a party in their SUV. As their vehicle traverses winding, twisting country roads, Jeff becomes so enthralled with fondling his beautiful wife that he takes his eyes off the road for a split second. Then it happens! With a lack of cell phone reception on the remote, wooded stretch leaving the couple unable to call 911, their sole option is to load their victim (K.C. Faldasz: The Forger 2014, Manchester by the Sea 2016) into their SUV and take off, presumably, for the nearest hospital.
As they race for help, their innocent victim seizes and dies in the SUV. Unsure how to proceed and what to do next – and a bit tipsy from New Year’s Eve libations – the couple head back to their quaint and isolated home in the country. While they struggle to weigh morality against legalities, Lindsey’s younger sister Hannah (Perla Haney-Jardine: Kill Bill: Volume 2 2004, Steve Jobs 2015) returns home from her night on the town. Complications arise when Hannah gets bloody curious, and then a pair of police officers – suspicious Officer Verone (Andrew Rothenberg: Stranger Than Fiction 2006, True Blood series) and kindly Officer Campbell (Joseph Lee Anderson: Blue Bloods series, The Ballad of Lefty Brown 2017) – turn up to sniff around the property, as well.
Just as the Pittman trio are about to breathe a sigh of relief, in walks Detective Smith (Ward Horton: Annabelle 2014, Pure Genius series), with an agenda that will toss a gigantic wrench into the already chaotic works. Clocking in at 94 minutes in-length, Midnighters was directed by Julius Ramsay (The Walking Dead series, Scream: The TV series) and written by first-time Film Drafter Alston Ramsay. Midnighters is billed as a Thriller and reads like one, indeed, with elements of Suspense, as well as a peppering of Crime and Drama.
While Midnighters does begin with a kind of I Know What You Did Last Summer vibe, this is a film with more twists and turns than a good ‘coaster. That, in turn (pun intended), bumps up what could have been a banal Thriller to something that is highly enjoyable, cringe-inducing at times, with a healthy dose of blood thanks to a firm hammering to some appendages. It is certainly not a Horror film, no, though this is also not a film for the faint of heart.
The ensemble cast here are a blend of talent levels with Essoe (as Lindsey) and Horton (as Smith) leading the pack. Essoe is equal parts stereotypical, struggling middle class wife and ballsy spitfire, creating a character who is well-rounded and enjoyable to watch; her reactions are never fully predictable. Horton, in his role as the cold and calculating Smith, is deliciously devious and suave, a deadly yet debonair dude, if you will.
Their castmates McTee (as Jeff) and Haney-Jardine (as Hannah) are not quite as impressive, though they both manage to hold their own and make their less than upstanding characters somewhat believable. Haney-Jardine begins her performance with an unimpressive set of crocodile tears, though as the story unfolds, so do her talents. Meanwhile, McTee embraces his role as the insufferable kept-husband, trotting through the film with a perpetual scowl.
Midnighters could inspire a plethora of taglines, including the smarmy: “Marriage is brutal honesty!” Which should be somewhat telling as to what territory this story will dip its eclectic little tootsies into. Filmed in Rhode Island – with the Clouds Hill Victorian House Museum providing one gorgeous locale – this is a wonderfully done production that offers up twists and turns, a few cringe-worthy moments, and an overall enjoyable viewing experience. Everyone’s got a secret! What’s yours? For providing the perfect accompaniment to a snowy winter’s eve, CrypticRock give Midnighters 4 of 5 stars.