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THE MIDNIGHT MAN (2017)
Directed by Travis Z
Written by Rob Kennedy (based on an original screenplay by), Travis Z
Starring Gabrielle Haugh, Grayson Gabriel, Emily Haine, Lin Shaye, Robert Englund, Summer H. Howell, Logan Creran, Abigail Pniowsky, Callie Lane, Keenan Lehmann, Louise Linton, Meredith Rose, Michael Sirow, Luca Villacis, & Kyle Strauts as the Midnight Man!
Find out more about this film here
The director of the uninspired CABIN FEVER remake returns with a much more entertaining story that combines the Boogie Man with Ouija in THE MIDNIGHT MAN.
Back from college to take care of her ailing Aunt Anna (Lin Shaye), Alex (Gabrielle Haugh) and her best friend and beta-male Miles (Grayson Gabriel) decide to play a game they find in the attic which involves an incantation, the drawing of blood, and a lit candle to summon a monster called the Midnight Man. Once summoned, the Midnight Man confronts the kids with their worst fears and will continue to do so until 3:33AM. The only way the Midnight Man can be warded off is with a candle, but beware, the Midnight Man cheats at this game, as explained by Aunt Anna’s exposition dropping doctor (played by Freddy Krueger himself, Robert England).
Ok, first things first. Though it is called a game, the game that summons the Midnight Man isn’t a frikkin’ game. I’ll give it to them that it’s a summoning or a curse or something supernatural like that. I understand that the Midnight Man is known to play unfairly and maybe calling it a game is cheating itself, but this is most definitely not a game. A game suggests that some form of fun is had. Maybe a roll of the dice. Maybe some kind of competition with a winner being named at the end. In no way does this resemble a game. Looking past that, THE MIDNIGHT MAN is kind of a fun film, though it does follow plot points prevalent in dismal films like THE BYE BYE MAN and OUIJA. I’ll give it to director Travis Z for establishing rules and then following them from beginning to the end. While it isn’t too original, it is fun to see the Midnight Man slink in and pry the fears from his victims heads and then turning them against them. While there are only three participants in this curse (not calling it a game), the sequences where these fears are tossed back at them are pretty fun – one of them having to do with the fear of blood (though the character doesn’t seem to have a problem pricking her finger with a needle to play the game) and a fear of bunnies recalling a buried memory from youth which seems to be silly but actually turns out to be visually chilling.
Still, the main reason to see this film is for the two supporting players—A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET alum Robert Englund and Lin Shaye. Shaye does a great job of playing batshit crazy and it is kind of interesting seeing Englund playing the straight man to Shaye’s monster—a role reversal from the original ANOES. The other young actors who round out the cast are decent. Lead Gabrielle Haugh has a kind of deadpan delivery that I grew kind of weary of. Grayson Gabriel plays an atypical male lead role which was appreciated. But the third youngster Emily Haine from FARGO is the true standout of the three.
While the visage of the Midnight Man is basically a twist on the Bye Bye Man and the more effective The Babadook, the effects making him mist his ways through the halls of the dark home is effectively ooky. It’s interesting that Englund is in this film, as the monster’s voice sounds a whole lot like Freddy from the ANOES series. The final twists in the film actually work and end this film on a note that is a bit darker than most teen jump-scare fests. THE MIDNIGHT MAN is effectively thrilling in bits. There are some fun sequences and the monster does have a nice devious side. The performances are swell too. While it doesn’t really offer up anything new, it all looks pretty good and guarantees for a boppy and breezy sort of thrill throughout. Plus while it is calls itself a game, it’s not a game.
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