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Midnighters (Movie Review)

Midnighters (Movie Review)
02.27.2018by: Mike Sprague
8 10

PLOT: Midnight, New Year's Eve: when all the hopes of new beginnings come to life - except for Lindsey and Jeff Pittman, whose strained marriage faces the ultimate test after they cover up a terrible crime and find themselves entangled in a Hitchcockian web of deceit and madness.

REVIEW: I've said it before, and I will say it again I'm sure, but I became a big fan of Alex Essoe. After her brave and ballsy performance as the demonically-doomed starlet in Kevin Kolsch and Dennis Widmyer's STARRY EYES, I was hooked. And it is with this in mind that I try to keep an eye out for films starring Essoe. So when I saw the trailer for Julius Ramsay's MIDNIGHTERS, I lept at the chance to give it a look-see. What did I think of the film? Well, let's get into that after a quick rundown on the plot.

The film follows a couple on the rocks (Alex Essoe and Dylan McTee) who live with Essoe's little sister (Perla Haney-Jardine). To say their home life is strained would be a bit of an understatement. But then things take a turn for the worst when, after leaving a party, the couple run down a man on a dark road in the woods. They decide to hide the evidence, drive the dead body back to their house, and try to pretend it never happened. This does not go well, and eventually, they must answer for their sins.

First things first when it comes to Julius Ramsay's MIDNIGHTERS: the script. The screenplay was written by Alston Ramsay and the first-time writer really knocks it out of the park. The film is filled with layered characters that do unexpected (yet believably motivated) things throughout the movie to our enjoyment. The characters zig when you expect them to zag, and maim and murder others when you expect them to, you know, not.

But praising the tight screenplay aside, the other major element that gives this dark thriller wings is the cast. Not all of the cast mind you, but the major players really shine here. Most of all, go figure, Alex Essoe as the put-upon bank teller wife, Lindsey. The other major player that deserves all the love is Ward Horton as Smith, a police detective that comes to our couples home looking for answers and ends up being much more than anyone bargained for. Ward is scary as hell as Smith and this guy is going places, I can assure you of that. While the rest of the limited cast doesn't fair well standing next to Essoe and Ward, how can you blame them? Essoe and Ward are phenomenal.

In fact, about a quarter of the way through, this movie really started to remind me of the second season of FX's FARGO. And considering the second season of FARGO is just about one of the best seasons of TV we have ever seen, that is high praise for Julius Ramsay's MIDNIGHTERS. Too high, in fact. Let it be known that as tight a thriller as MIDNIGHTERS is, it doesn't hold a candle to FARGO season 2. Sorry, but true. That said, that this comparison ever even crossed my mind says worlds about how much I enjoyed this film.

But all of that aside, I guess it's time to bring up the film's one "flaw." But mind you, I only bring this up because this is a horror movie site. This isn't a horror film. Sure, there are some intense scenes of violence, but really (one scene excluded) this film is fairly tame stuff. Not that horror needs to be super-violent, I'm just saying this film is much closer to a dark character-driven thriller than any kind of horror movie. Again, not a bad thing, or really a flaw at all.

The blood doesn't flow like wine, but when it does it hits hard. We even get a super cringe-worthy sequence where one character decides, seemingly out of the blue, to nail another character to a chair through - get this f*cking sh*t - their fingernails! Holy hell did this scene make me want to put on concrete gloves for the rest of my life. Gack! I'm still cringing over here. That's some powerful shite!

In the end, Julius Ramsay's MIDNIGHTERS is a film that not everyone will find to be their cup of tea. But if you dig twisty-turning character-driven thrillers, then you'll be right at home with MIDNIGHTERS. The script is aces, the acting (for the most) part is solid as hell, with Essoe and Ward being major highlights, and Ramsay's directing keeps us guessing through until the end. All said and done, MIDNIGHTERS is worth staying up late with, for sure.

Extra Tidbit: The film hits theaters, On Demand, and Digital HD March 2, 2018.
Source: AITH



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