Rebekah Brandes - Bridget
Daniel Bonjour - Josh
Mandell Maughan - Samantha
Greg Cirulnick - Mario
Stan Ellsworth - Harley
Jon Briddell - Det. Doug Barrons
Brea Grant - Rachael
Michael Schwartz - Sully
Carol Stanzione - Mother
Michael Swan - Dr. Wayne
Genre - Horror/Slasher
Running Time - 84 Minutes
Score - 3.5 Howls Outta 4
PLOT - In MIDNIGHT MOVIE, there seems to be a film that makes people disappear and get them killed. Suprisingly, it's not called ANKLE BITERS. Hmmm... Anyway, the dude behind the film is locked in some asylum and the doctors, who are mildly retarded, decide it's a fuckin' great idea to show the movie to him. The one smart doctor (Michael Swan) who actually has a brain tries to stop this "therapy session", but only finds blood and no patient.
Five years later, some theater has possession of the film, called "The Dark Beneath", and decide to show it at midnight. Here we meet the main characters: Bridget (Rebekah Brandes), her boyfriend Josh (Daniel Bonjour), their friends Samantha (Mandell Maughan) and Mario (Greg Cirulnick), some dorky kid (Michael Schwartz), a biker couple, a couple of Bridget's co-workers, and of course the smart doctor and a police officer (Jon Briddell). The film starts out okay until strange things begin to happen. Slowly, the people in the theater end up being part of the actual film, watching themselves get killed by the man who disappeared from that asylum years ago and his mother. I've always wanted to be in the movies but this is just ridiculous!
STORY - MIDNIGHT MOVIE, written by director Jack Messitt and co-writer Mark Garbett, isn't a totally original horror flick but its premise makes it stand out quite a bit from the rest. This story had a bit from other films, such as THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE [apparently your go-to film when it comes to slasher flicks], POPCORN, DEMONS, and the film-within-a-film aspect of LAST ACTION HERO and WES CRAVEN'S NEW NIGHTMARE. I liked it alot actually. I think the film-within-a-film concept is very cool if done right and MIDNIGHT MOVIE mostly does it justice. I found the whole idea of what's reality and what's not excellent, because at times, I wasn't sure until the reveal that these characters were actually part of the movie and now cannon fodder for the killer. I do think the reasons behind how this ONE film can actually do this was pretty lame because no explanation was really given. If it had made the film scary, I wouldn't question it. But MIDNIGHT MOVIE never goes for scares and the whole supernatural aspect is never unveiled for the results to be satisfying. I know some people are okay with "what ever happens happens", but I like more meat on my bones.
The characters, while stereotypical, were pretty cool. I disliked the jerks and wanted them dead. I liked the heroes and rooted for them. They weren't overly developed character-wise, but I knew enough about their personalities to relate to them. I do think some of the backstories for these characters, especially Bridget and her little brother's talk about being abused when they were younger, was a bit lame and forced. I understood it was used to give these two characters a reason for their reactions, but it just felt like it came out of left field for me. If the killer was their dad or something, I probably would have accepted it more. I didn't think it really added much to the story as a whole.
I also thought the killer wasn't as interesting as I would have liked. He seemed like a lame hybrid of Leatherface and Jason Voorhees to me. And why did he only use one damn weapon? This is a slasher flick! Use something else in your arsenal! And if the same weapon had to be used, use it in different ways that it doesn't start getting old after a while. It doesn't really hurt the film because MIDNIGHT MOVIE isn't really about the actual killer anyway. I'm just saying that variety when it comes to murder would have been appreciated.
DIRECTION - Jack Messitt directed a fine movie here. I thought the editing between the film and the actual reality of the situation was handled well to the point that it took me a while to guess what was real and what wasn't. The pacing was excellent and there were nice uses of style, such as angles, black-and-white, and such. There was some tension and suspense, though it never became scary. For a low budget flick, MIDNIGHT MOVIE felt like it cost more to make than it actually was. No complaints about the visuals at all.
VIOLENCE/SEX/LANGUAGE [aka THE GOOD STUFF] - The sex and the language was pretty tame for the most part. The violence wasn't too bad. We have a lot of stabbings and some throats getting sliced. Nothing too major here but enough to satisfy some.
ACTING - MIDNIGHT MOVIE had some excellent actors that made these characters more watchable than they probably should have been. In particular Rebekah Brandes, who play Bridget. She was the perfect Final Girl - tough, brave, smart, and pretty too. I thought she did a great job carrying the film. Daniel Bonjour as Josh was great too. I thought he and Brandes had some nice chemistry and Bonjour made you root for his character. Greg Cirulnick was cool as Mario, that friend that you hang out with even though he's an asshole. Unfortunately in a situation like this, he'd probably play the part of "lamb sent to the slaughter for my own personal survival", but that's what friends are for, right? Yeah, Cirulnick made me dislike this guy and that was the point. I thought Stan Ellsworth was cool as Harley. Who knew biker dudes enjoy taking their girl to the movies? The guy was pretty charming and he had a hot girlfriend too who looked like Meredith Brooks. And Brea Grant was okay as Rachael. She doesn't do much but act bitchy here but she's more than capable looking at her work on Heroes. Too bad she didn't have her "flash" abilities to run away from the killer. Bummer. Great cast.
MUSIC - Some generic metal music here. I thought it was pretty decent actually. And we have some creepy score during the film.
THE FINAL HOWL
MIDNIGHT MOVIE isn't original but it's entertaining for 80 minutes. The story could have been a bit stronger but other than that, MIDNIGHT MOVIE is worthy of a cult following. It's just sad that crappy remakes get wide releases while great horror films like this one get a limited release until their release on DVD. If you want to see something that isn't too brutal, a remake, or a horrible sequel, MIDNIGHT MOVIE deserves your eyes and ears. Check it out.