Written and directed by Travis Zariwny along with Rob Kennedy, The Midnight Man is a 2016 horror starring Gabrielle Haugh, Grayson Gabriel, Emily Haine, Robert Englund and Lin Shaye.
It’s based around the urban legend of the ‘midnight game’. A complicated ‘scary’ game that sees players following a number of absurd rules to avoid the clutches of The Midnight Man between 12AM and 3:3AM.
The movie opens showing a group of young kids playing the game but losing. Several of them are killed in really gratuitous ways. The film then jumps to modern times where one of the surviving kids, now elderly, is being looked after by her grand-daughter. Anna (Lin Shaye) seems to be suffering from some form of mental illness as she alternates between being sharp then sweet to her granddaughter, Alex (Gabrielle Haugh).
Frustrated Alex invites a few of her friends around & then when looking for a mirror for Anna, discovers the midnight game. After a brief bit of ‘should we open it?’ with Miles (Grayson Gabriel) they dig into the box and find the rules. So, what else is there to do but play the game?
It doesn’t take long for them to regret their decision especially as the nonsensical rules constantly interrupt the flow and hilariously, old Midnight himself likes to cheat. I mean…why even have rules then!?
That’s just one of the many questions you’ll be asking in this bland, run of the mill horror. It’s slow and boring. The villain of the piece is every spooky horror figure ever and the fodder are characterless clichés. Even the likes of Englund and Shaye can’t drag it up from the depths it sinks after yet another lengthy piece of exposition or rule setting.
It’s very predictable with a final twist that is painfully obvious to anyone that’s watched a horror film before. Remember? The Midnight Man likes to cheat…
So does this mean it’s a complete waste of time? Well, no. The setting is decent & there are a few clever scenes and sequences. The film is well shot for being a low budget indie horror and when it wants to be, it can be really gory. These are the best moments of the film but the sudden shifts in tone can be a bit disconcerting. We’ll get a couple of seconds of extreme gore then go straight back to the poor attempt at tension building or jump scare creations.
The Midnight Man is worth watching for the opening 10 minutes purely to see a kid explode in a shower of blood. That’s a standing ovation kind of opening. Leave it there though unless you fancy playing a mobile game of the legend instead.
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The Midnight Man
The Final Score - 5/10