ARROW IN THE HEAD REVIEWS

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Midnight Mass (2003)
Written by: The Arrow
Director: Tony Mandile

Starring:
Douglas Gibson/Father Joe
Pamela Karp/Gwen
Julie Cornish/Raven
Marvin Schwartz/Father Palmeri
4 10
PLOT-CRUNCH
The world has been overrun by vampires. We focus on a small hick town where the vamp population is growing like a mojo rising. It’s up to Jesus Christ dead ringer Father Joe (Gibson) and feisty Atheist Gwen (Karp) to save the day. Too bad they can’t SHUT the hell UP about it! Bugh…
THE LOWDOWN
This low budgeted effort does have some merits in that it was bravely more ambitious than the usual “handful of coins” horror flicks that we get, but alas, blood, sweat and tears aren’t always enough. This was one of those times. Midnight Mass’ biggest flaw is that it talked endlessly about everything as opposed to showing us anything. How many lengthy dialogue sequences, be it for expositional purposes, characterization or thematic “down your throat” fisting do we need in one sitting? DAMN!

Every time I thought something physically gripping was going to finally happen, the peeps would start yapping away like their lives depended on it! Clam up and DO something already! I’m all for addressing the Catholic religion and individual faith while delivering social commentaries and bringing up philosophy, but for the love of “From Dusk Till Dawn”, you don’t have to read it to me for an hour and a half, man! This is a movie...actually, it’s a HORROR movie! How about defining character through their actions? How about delivering a point via images? Stop SPELLING everything out, Taco! In consequence, I was wiggling in my seat like a geezer with a collection of gushing hemorrhoids singing a messy chorale up his ying-yang throughout this whole watch. I couldn’t wait for the torture that was this movie to end!

To make things even worse, the flick acted like a character-driven piece, with the problem being that apart from the hip servant of the Lord, Father Joe (Gibson), I pretty much didn’t give a buttock damn about anyone in this spelling bee. Why, you may ask? Well, the dialogue was not only never-ending, but it also often blew chunky pea soup or was overwritten to the point of ridicule. That, of course, didn’t help the already “off” acting in the house. The Goth brats annoyed me, the leader vamp priest (Schwartz) hammed it up and made me piss my pants in laughter while the lead chickadee Gwen (Karp) ruled all in the “I SUCK” department. Shite, her fits of random grandiose overacting grated me more than a chainsaw buzzing on a blackboard. Easy tigress…EAAAASY!

On the slight upside, I will admit to appreciating the film’s premise and some its dark ideas. I also dug some of the side characters (Raven and her many tit shots rocked), the gritty photography, the able directing style, the few gooey gore scenes, the shameless female flesh peddling and that “Fright Night” wink-wink was cute. But on a whole, those goodies didn’t compensate for the heavy-handed snooze-fest that this unscary flick wound up being. I was almost put into a coma over here! Mass is closed, find another church to pray in!
GORE
We get some messy vamp feedings, some impaling, a cross violently shoved in one’s mouth and lots of blood gushing into frame from off-screen kills. The gore scenes are few and far between though.
ACTING
Douglas Gibson (Father Joe) was one of the better performers here, hitting his various emotional levels credibly. Pamela Karp (Gwen) was on and off. When she was on, she was semi-endearing, but when she was off...fuck me man, she made me want to jump off a pier with a rock tied around my neck. Julie Cornish (Raven) was a hottie, played it down and had a sexy British accent to back up her yummy cleavage. Marvin Schwartz (Father Palmeri) was freaking hilarious in a "so bad, he’s bad" way. Think an overacting Bob Barker on speed. I will give the guy this much though: I loved hearing him say the word “Bitch”. YOU GO, BOY! Mariana Matthews (Mickey) played it wise by underplaying it. She was also a cutie patootey.
T & A
We get a hot blonde fully stripped down early on and Julie Corvish gives us all kinds of tit shots. Thanks honey! I needed those! The ladies get some shirtless dudes with one actually whipping himself while jerking off. Yeah…ok…the man needs to get out of the house more often….SHEESH!
DIRECTING
I enjoyed the gritty and bleak atmosphere in this film as well as the use of still shots and quick cuts. Mandile also knew how to capitalize on his settings from a visual standpoint (loved the beach sequences). Sadly, there’s zero tension here, the fight sequences were clumsy and the snail's pace knocked me out.
SOUNDTRACK
I grooved on the Goth rock industrial-like tunes, but what was up with the schizoid score? It often didn’t match the scenes it backed in tone and in turn, lessened their impact.
BOTTOM LINE
Midnight Mass’s worst sin is that it talks us to death and forces its “messages” down our throats with zero subtlety whatsoever. If it had communicated its themes and characters more skillfully, through more action, it would’ve helped make the shoddy dialogue and the so-so acting bearable. Since it played it all “dead serious”, you may milk a couple of unintentional laughs out of it, but overall, I say skip this puppy and find another horror poodle to hump. Unless you’re in the mood for a dead lay, of course.
BULL'S EYE
Director Tony Mandile has a small role in this film as Finnegan.

F. Paul Wilson (author of The Keep) had a hand in writing this screenplay.
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