Main cast: Gabrielle Haugh (Alex Luster), Lin Shaye (Anna Luster), Grayson Gabriel (Miles), Robert Englund (Dr Harding), Emily Haine (Kelly), and Kyle Strauts (The Midnight Man)
Director: Travis Zariwny
Just what is wrong with horror movies these days? The ones from mainstream studios are full of boring, tedious, and predictably timed jump scares, the cheap ones tend to be an embarrassment to all involved, and those in between try so hard to emulate the “pretty people do dumb things” formula that combines the worst of both extremes: tedious jump scares and mass embarrassment to all involved. Yes, The Midnight Man is one of those movies.
Basically, there is this game that one can play, involving the summoning of the Midnight Man, a heavily masked thing with a low rasp that makes him sound like some Tony Todd knockoff, at midnight and then outwitting him by staying alive until 3.33 pm.
At that time, Alex Luster doesn’t know it but her increasingly senile grandmother Anna is a survivor of the Midnight Man’s games, whose broken psyche may be due to her compulsion to keep playing the game. When she discovers the box that triggers the game, she and her friend Miles of course decide to perform the summoning ritual without knowing what they are really doing. Don’t ask me why these people don’t just watch TV or play games on their mobile phones if they are that bored. They even drag in Anna’s doctor, Dr Harding, and their friend Kelly because let’s face it, two people aren’t an impressive number when it comes to potential body count in a horror movie.
On one hand, Lin Shaye is pretty solid as the creepy old woman who can turn from sweet old gran into crazy, angry hag in the blink of an eye. The Midnight Man does sound like a genuinely menacing entity. Shame that he is basically made up of fake-looking CGI; he’s only scary so long as one listens but doesn’t look at him.
On the other hand, the rest of The Midnight Man is a long, plodding bore comprising tedious stumbling through deliberately dark hallways and rooms as well as eye-rolling jump scares. Also, the rules of the game keep changing depending on the plot, so eventually it’s clear that there are no rules. These people are just making up dung as they go along.
The body count is minimal, and what little gore is made of fake-looking CGI. Sadly, this thing is best watched by people who for some reason like to see an hour plus film of people staggering around in the dark and jumping at things in the shadows.