Midnight Movie (2008)

Midnight Movie (2008)

Radford is Back!

Film maker Ted Radford made a low budget horror flick called The Dark Beneath but he was institutionalised soon after for going insane. One his doctors decides to allow him to watch the film again as part of his therapy but this leads to a massacre at the hospital and the disappearance of Radford. Five years after he vanished, a small theatre is showing a midnight screening of The Dark Beneath for the very first time since that fateful night. As the film unfolds, the selective audience soon realise that the killer in the film is very much real and loose inside the theatre.


OK, so what we have with Midnight Movie is basically another modern-day low budget slasher which both simultaneously pays tribute to the 80s slashers and attempts to fashion a new horror icon out of its clichéd raw materials at the same time. With winks to old school horror films and a definite eye on the new torture porn trend, Midnight Movie was never going to reinvent the wheel as far as the sub-genre goes. I’m pleasantly surprised that the film actually manages to be consistently entertaining, something which many a modern slasher fails to deliver. But how many more times am I going to be able to stomach another slasher which pays tribute to the glory days? That in itself is becoming as cliché as the formula by which this sub-genre has strictly adhered to over the years.

The main difference between Midnight Movie and its recent slasher counterparts is solely the idea of the killer being able to transport himself out of the film, into the theatre and then back in again. It’s an idea which is basic in its conception but works a lot better on the screen than it has any right to. As Radford begins to kill people in the cinema, those scenes become part of the film, The Dark Beneath. This works pretty well for the majority of the film as Radford can come and go as he pleases. Unfortunately all of this alternative reality/film-within-a-film nonsense spirals out of control in the finale and the story gets messy. The film has a reasonable short running time so an extra ten minutes or so to flesh things out and slow things down at this point would have been a welcome addition.

The film-within-a-film, The Dark Beneath, is expectedly terrible enough to try and imitate the grim backwoods horror style of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. In fact the film itself is virtually a homage to Tobe Hooper’s classic, from the camper van full of teenagers breaking down in the middle of nowhere, to the first shot of Radford springing out from behind a huge door and then the final sequences of Radford chasing the final girl out of the house and down the road. It’s been made to look grainy and has been shot in black-and-white to give it an old school vibe.

Aside from the story itself, not many risks are taken with the standard slasher prototype. You have the less-than-the-norm setting of an old theatre house, complete with many twisting staircases, projector rooms, basements, etc. The location is clearly a nostalgic look back to the glory days for low budget films, when small one-screen cinemas could operate as they saw fit, free of the shackles of the big cinema chains and their brainwashed blind devotion to the big Hollywood blockbusters.

You’ve got the requisite cast filled with plenty of stereotypical characters. The teenagers aren’t particularly great but they’re not terrible either. They’re just paint-by-numbers. Particular mention here must go to Stan Ellsworth, who plays the big biker Harley. At first the character comes off as a big asshole but as the film progresses, your initial expectations of his character are blown away.

You’ve also got the kills, which get bloodier as the film progresses (the film shies away from the first couple of kills, which I thought would set a dangerous precedent but thankfully you do get to see some decent stuff later on). Unfortunately the deaths get extremely repetitive as Radford uses the same weird metal corkscrew-like weapon to kill his victims. It’s pretty nifty the first time around but not when you’ve seen it a handful of times. I think too much emphasis has been placed onto Radford’s killer persona in an attempt to create a new slasher icon. He’s got the half-skull mask and the weird hand-weapon he uses to smash into people with to make him stand out from the rest but he’s not going to catch on any time soon. I’m not sure whether they intended him to look this way but he reminded me a lot of the killer from Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon. The sequel-pleading ending would not convince many to shell out cash for a further instalment.


Midnight Movie is never going to win any awards for originality and, like the majority of modern day slashers, you’ll never really have a burning desire to see it again….or remember anything about it once the next carbon copy comes along. Despite some nice ideas and the fact that the director clearly ‘gets’ the sub-genre he so obviously loves, Midnight Movie will most likely end up at that – something for drunken frat boys to stick on at crazy o’clock when they’ve come home from an all-day booze session.





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