Sometimes people need to block out the world and unwind. What better place than a secluded lodge in the middle of the woods. After all, what could go wrong? Set for release on VOD as of July 3, 2018, and on DVD as of September 4th via Uncork’d Entertainment, Christopher Ray’s Minutes to Midnight proves that sometimes the quietest settings can be deadly.
It is New Year’s Eve. Sophia (Sara Fletcher: Secret Girlfriend series, House of Darkness TV movie 2016) and her friends are getting the night started early while still at the office. However, her friends, Vanessa (Heather Paige Cohn: Alpha House 2014, Shiner 2018) and Heather (Macey Cruthird: Hope & Faith series, The Occupants 2014), have failed to mention that her ex-boyfriend, Michael (Bryce Draper: The Haves and Have Nots series, Mistrust 2018), will also be in attendance. And suddenly, Sophia’s New Year’s Eve party has grown much more complicated.
Though, before any real celebrations can get underway, their boss, Mr. Walters (William Baldwin: Backdraft 1991, Silver 1993), interrupts and reminds them to have a good night and make sure to lock up soon. Then, a fabulous idea strikes: move the party to the lodge that Mr. Walters owns. Instead of taking their vehicles, the group decides to hike to the lodge.
At this very same moment, Travis Crenna (John Hennigan: Hercules Reborn 2014, Boone: The Bounty Hunter 2017) is traveling on foot through the area, searching for his brother, Charlie (Kaiwi Lyman: American Horror Story: Cult series, Den of Thieves 2018), and his girlfriend, Emily (Viva Bianca: Spartacus: War of the Damned series, A Prince for Christmas TV movie 2015), who went missing a month ago while hiking in the woods.
Needless to say, Travis is not welcomed with open arms. Ranger Taso (Christopher Judge: Stargate SG-1 series, Level Up Norge series) and Sheriff Wyatt (Richard Grieco: If Looks Could Kill 1991, 22 Jump Street 2014) not so politely warn him to stay out of trouble and urge him to just move along. When he ultimately crosses paths with the party-goers, he does not have any better luck, and Kyle (Phillip Andre Botello: Funny People 2009, The Art of Self-Defense 2018) especially takes issue with Travis’s presence. In his mind, Travis is just a party killer!
Meanwhile, Chloe (Dominique Swain: Lolita 1997, Boone: The Bounty Hunter 2017) and Gabe (Scott Thomas Reynolds: 3-Headed Shark Attack 2015, The Mick series) attempt to arrive at the party later but never make it to the lodge, and their absence suddenly alerts the group that something is wrong, and they are not in the woods alone. In fact, as luck would have it, three killers have set up traps and are silently hunting them down. Gimple (Bill Moseley: House of 1000 Corpses 2003, Repo! The Genetic Opera 2008) leaves a calling card of paintings drawn in blood as he circles his prey, while Angus (Aaron Aguilera: Slammed 2004, Where the Bears Are series) is the silent giant and the muscle of the trio. Calypso (Mercy Malick: Major Crimes series, Mission Control TV movie 2017), a darkly-dressed female with half her face covered, completes this terror-some threesome who are hellbent on taking lives before midnight. But why are they hunting people in the woods?
It is a difficult task to have a large cast of characters and still give each one their own identity; as it is not easy to give the audience an idea of the character before he or she is killed off or simply forgotten. This film does succeed in that. Whether it be Richie (Jared Cohn: 13/13/13 2013, Sharknado: Heart of Sharkness 2015), the kind of weird, always friend zoned, pseudo confident guy or the hot chick who always gets what she wants, Tiffani (Jena Sims: Attack of the 50 foot Cheerleader 2012, Kill the Messenger 2014), there is no mistake which character is which. While a few are absolutely one-dimensional it all somehow still works. Sometimes when bodies fall rapidly, the viewer just needs to connect the bodies to a breathing person and not just some lump of meat; and this film has figured out the exact recipe for that.
Minutes to Midnight follows the formula for the typical Slasher film: get a large group of people together, throw in a silent killer or two (or three or four), and watch the bloodshed and mayhem that follows. Films that follow formulas are not always a bad thing, as formulas exist because they work; sometimes films just do not need to be more than that.
Minutes to Midnight is a decent film, but there is nothing spectacular about it that the viewer will remember long term. So, while the story is interesting and the characters are relatable, this is more of a film to sit back, relax, and enjoy while it is on-screen rather than pondering after the closing credits. Not all films need to be more than that. It is for these reasons that CrypticRock gives Minutes to Midnight 3 out of 5 stars.