FTP: Midnighters (2017)

APRIL 5, 2019


In many ways, Midnighters is an ideal "pile" movie - it's a decent watch, but also the sort of film that I'd never want to watch again as its greatest strength is watching loyalties between its primary characters continually shift as it inches its way toward a conclusion that leaves very few of them standing. So I've made the pile that much smaller, but also don't need to clear any room on my permanent shelf for it! Hurrah! And also because it's a fairly simply plot that largely relies on springing those twists on you, so if I was giving it a traditionally lengthy HMAD review I'd probably end up spoiling some things, and that wouldn't be very good.

Here's as much of the story I'll give away (i.e. the first 20-30 minutes or so): a couple (Alex Essoe from Starry Eyes and Dylan McTee from this week's The Wind) who are facing some issues (financial ones, mainly) but still seem to be in love are on their way home from a New Year's Eve party when they accidentally run someone over. He appears to be dead, and as they've been drinking they don't want to call the cops just yet, so they bring the body home so they can cover up a bit before bringing him to the hospital. But it turns out he's not actually dead, and a couple of people stop over with their own motivations, so things just keep getting dicier. A (pointless, but thankfully not too crippling) flash forward opening tells us that Essoe's character will end up tied to a chair at some point - it's to the movie's credit that until it happened it could have been anyone that put her in there.

Of course that also means that everyone but her is an awful person, and she herself isn't a saint at times, so while it's not easy to guess who will end up siding with who, it's hard to care all that much either; kill the whole lot of them for all it matters. In something like Game of Thrones, everyone being an asshole isn't too much of a big deal because there's such a big tapestry playing out before you (and dragons!), but here it's just a bunch of jerks in a house arguing about what to do next - it's hard to get as invested in the proceedings. As a result, my favorite scene in the movie was probably when a pair of cops come over, because they keep catching them in their lies (they say they hit a deer with their car) and clearly know something is up but can't really do anything without a warrant or even much probable cause. So unlike most such scenes, where you're biting your nails hoping your heroes are able to outsmart the suspicious cops, I was starting to get nervous for the cops, fearing they'd finally find something they couldn't shrug off and end up being kidnapped or killed by the couple as well (it occurs too early in the film for it to lead to a conclusion).

But for what it is, it still mostly works; like a Coen thriller without any of the humor (a deleted scene on the disc offers its only real levity - a bit where some friends stop by and can't seem to get the hint that it's not the best time). Despite the flash forward, the most torture-y violence is saved for a male character (its most despicable, at that) so it's not a "tough watch" or anything like that; some of the harsher moments occur off screen entirely. Suspense and tension are the order of the day here, with director Julius Ramsay using graphic violence sparingly/effectively, so there's another check in the "pro" column for the film. The deleted scenes are the only feature on the disc, so if you opt for streaming you're not missing much in that department. Ultimately, the only real shame is that it's not really a horror film - we can use more New Year's set ones!

What say you?


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