Taking bits and pieces from other films rarely makes a for a good watch. How many times do you hear someone say something like “It's like 'Jaws', but with aliens!” or “It's like a mixture of 'A Nightmare on Elm Street' with “'Lord of the Rings'”? Most of the time, writers and producers are saying the same thing in order for their movie to get made. Call it a lack of originality, in search of a quick buck, or just being lazy, but it's how a lot of entertainment is created today. Horror is a genre where mixing different ideas could either lead to a fun watch or something incredibly terrible.
Midnight Movie is a 2008 slasher horror movie starring Rebekah Brandes (Grim Reaper, Slaughter Party) as Bridget and Daniel Bonjour (Dragon Quest, Beast Beneath) as Josh. In the 1970's, a slasher movie named The Dark Beneath was released, directed and starring Ted Radford. The movie drove him mad and sent him to the psych ward. Years later, a doctor thought it would be therapeutic for him to watch the movie again, ignoring the warnings of Dr. Dave Wayne. Rather than soothing Radford, he throws him into a homicidal rage, killing 70 people and disappearing. Five years later, The Dark Beneath is being show at a grindhouse movie theater. Bridget and Josh attend with their friends Mario, Samantha, and Sully. Also in attendance are a biker named Harley, his old lady Babe, Detective Barrons, who worked on the original Radford case and Dr. Wayne. As they watch the movie, it switches from a first person point of view as the skull-masked killer murders his prey. As it turns out, Radford is actually leaving the movie, entering the real world, and killing people, much to the amusement of the audience who thinks it's all an act. When Sully is killed, they finally realize that this is no special effect and are in real danger. It's made even worse when Bridget's little brother, Timmy, sneaks into the theater. Bullets do not hurt Radford and he starts to kill off the audience one by one. He uses his powers to lock them in the theater while simultaneously shielding them from being seen by the outside world. Will Bridget and Timmy be able to escape from this horror movie come to life and will anyone believe their story?
This movie is a weird mixture of The Ring, 70's slashers like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Friday the 13th. It's an interesting take on multiple genres, I'll give them that. One good thing about giving your own twist on the supernatural slasher subgenre is that you can create your own rules. We all know that you have to shoot a zombie in the head or drive a stake through a vampire's heart. By going off into your own, relatively original, idea, you have the freedom to say what can or cannot happen. The problem that Midnight Movie runs into is that by making up their own rules, it feels like they just tossed ideas against the wall and hoped some would stick. It's never really explained why Radford could jump in and out of the movie, why he couldn't be hurt, and how he was able to block the police from seeing inside the movie theater.
The idea for Midnight Movie reminded me a little bit of Masters of Horror: Cigarette Burns. The idea of a movie driving someone insane and causing them to kill is somewhat similar, though in Cigarette Burns they tease the movie throughout, making your really want to see it, but also terrified to what you may behold. In Midnight Movie, there's about 10 minutes of mystery, before they show most of The Dark Beneath, and it's a pretty boring movie. Even one of the characters in the audience points out that it's kind of weak. It's not a big deal, but they could have put a little more effort in the movie within a movie.
The kills throughout are pretty good. Lots of blood and gore to keep slasher fans happy with some nice creativity to keep things from going stale. His weapon of choice is a big corkscrew, which is different, though not as imposing as a machete or butcher knife. Radford has a half skull mask and some sort of Do-rag covering the rest. Why not just give him a whole skull? The acting is good enough to keep me from being distracted, so that's a victory.
Skull masks - half off
Midnight Movie is a mixture of better horror movies that you'd probably rather watch. The plot is kind of weird and at times confusing and nonsensical. Things are never fully explained or even partially explained. The movie-within-a-movie could have been handled better with a little bit more effort put into making The Dark Beneath actually scary and entertaining. The violence is pretty good and I give them credit for trying something different. The movie ends on a pretty big down note, which was unexpected, but appreciated. I like when movies don't take the easy and expected way out. Ultimately, Midnight Movie is able to entertain despite the lack of a coherent story. It was better than expected and you won't feel terrible for watching it.