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Film Review: Midnight Movie (2008)

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Some grind house aficionados become the unwilling stars of an old slasher flick when the film’s crazed killer leaps off the screen to hunt them down, drag them back into the movie and kill them. Discovering they are locked in the creepy old theater, the friends must spend the night eluding the madman before he slaughters them all. Jack Messitt directs while Rebekah Brandes, Daniel Bonjour and Mandell Maughan star.

At a run down theater in a sleepy suburban town, a group of friends attend the midnight screening of a 1970s cult horror film. These unsuspecting teenagers are unaware that the director and star of the movie made a bloody escape from a psych ward five years earlier and may still be on the loose.

As the midnight movie begins, the kids heckle the old black-and-white scenes. But they are jolted when the killer butchers one of their friends…on screen! They soon realize that the killing is not a prank. They are locked inside the theatre and the killer from the movie is after them!

Caught between reality and the screen’s flickering shadows, are they becoming the unwilling stars of the very horror movie they are watching?


Our latest horror offering directed by Jack Messit comes in the way of the film “Midnight movie”. Very effectively we start the film in the confines of a local psych ward where filmmaker / killer Ted Radford has been going under rehabilitation. In efforts to cure him, the doctor allows him to watch his own film that prompted his rampage tranformation years back. As we guessed, Radford loses it again and murders the entire floor pretty easily and gruesomely. Missing for the last 5 years after an escape, the town detective predicts he’ll make an appearance at a local cheap flick theater showing cult films. The latest showing being Radford’s a 1970’s “the Dark Beneath” film that hasn’t appeared since.

The Avenue theatre run by local young teens sets the stage as the night begins. When the film rolls, the evening becomes much more than they anticipated. Of the cast, we find a familiar face in actress Brea Grant who plays Daphne Millbrook in the new hit series “Heroes”. Stars of the film include Rebekah Brandes, Daniel Bonjour and Mandell Maughan.

“Midnight Movie” actually incorporates something pretty clever much like they did in “New Nightmare” of the Elm street series. That is the combining of nonfiction with fiction and then again nonfiction and a voyeur look at several levels of horror being presented at once. As the teens watch the old film, they begin to recognize some of the actors. The actors are actually themselves being killed at the theater in real time. With the film still rolling, the theater attendants get murdered on screen, and then processed into the movie they are watching. At this point, its pretty clear that they’ve crossed into the Twilight Zone of horror films with supernatural occurrences crossing the boundaries of real and fiction. It doesn’t take e long to figure out the real killer is in the house and all his murders get displayed on the big screen as they occur by combining in the old film. Sound confusing? It’s not, but its a pretty dynamic concept none the less. The killer a younger “Radford” of course now wears a mask, seems to have superhuman strength and is iunstoppable…ode to Halloween and Friday the 13th.

His device ? A home made spiral drill piece that stabs and pulls out some prizes from his victims. My fav part?…”Your going to have to go though me to get to her” stated by the detective in charge as Radford does exactly that. Sure a few lines feel like deja vu, but its the kind of dialog that helps maintain a certain amount of horror campiness necessary to fuel the picture.

I also so happens that the Radford experience has his own set of rules on the reality plane. Some being that he can control objects, materialize, control what police men see who come to aid and of course the slip from here and now into celluoid ability.

This film bring back memories for me. The good kind that is. Even though cut in 2008, I can’t help but feel a kindship with the feeling of horror films that came out on the 80’s. Ones that come to mind instantly include “Demons”, “Popcorn” and even the 90s non horror film “Last Action Hero “. The plot doesn’t try to dazzle you on any real intellectual ride and gives it to you basic, simple and familiar. The term movie within a movie, has never been more evident than “Midnight Movie”. The teens watch a old B&W 70’s slasher film while in reality a new one is about to unfold.

With all this going on you would have thought that Wes Craven was churning out another Scream formula to play with the audience a bit more. Nope, not a Craven product, but it packs all the horror traits from any popular franchise film you’ve grown up on. For that I have to give this one a full “great horror for horror fans” shout out and call it a one to watch. It does so without riding on a sequels coat tails and even throws another potential horror icon at you.

I think at some point we all need to really take inventory on what a horror film means to us. Though its impossible to “all” share the same line of agenda. we can agree what has proven in the mainstream, and Midnight Movie has that going for it. Clearly the most original horror film I’ve seen this year! I’ll watch this one many times in the years ahead!

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