M.L. Miller here! As I go into the tenth year of reviewing horror films, I wanted to go back to the beginning and repost some of the films I loved. Moving on to Year Three of my decade-long Retro-Best in Horror recap Countdowns begins officially on October 1, 2012 and goes through September 30, 2013. I have posted compilation lists in the past, but a lot of those old reviews haven’t seen the light of day since they were first posted many moons ago. Being the OCD person that I am, I have also worked and reworked the list, looking back at my own choices and shifting them around, and even adding a few that I might have missed or looked over from the year in question. So, if you think you know how these lists are going to turn out, you don’t!
How did I compile this list? I simply looked through films released between October 1st, 2012 and September 30, 2013 and worked and reworked the list until I had the magic number—31. Again, I never call myself any kind of expert in horror. I simply watch a lot of horror films and love writing about them. Don’t forget to like and share my picks with your pals across the web on your own personal social media. Chime in after the review and let me know what you think of the film, how on the nose or mind-numbingly wrong I am, or most importantly, come up with your own darn list…let’s go!
Released on October 7, 2012 and available on digital download, On Demand and BluRay/DVD here!
MIDNIGHT SON (2011)
Directed by Scott Leberecht
Written by Scott Leberecht
Starring Zak Kilberg, Maya Parish, Jo D. Jonz, Arlen Escarpeta, Larry Cedar, Tracey Walter
Find out more on its Facebook Page.
MIDNIGHT SON could be best described as a modern-day MARTIN with a little bit of the indie film HABIT tossed in for good measure. Those familiar with those two films will see some of the same themes at play here. Though MIDNIGHT SON doesn’t pull any punches admitting that the title character named Jacob is a vampire, like MARTIN, it provides an intimate look at a man who doesn’t know what he is and is trying, sometimes successfully but most of the time unsuccessfully, to find out. Of course, his one detriment is that he doesn’t know where to find these answers in a world where vamps are only found in midnight matinees. Like HABIT, which highlighted the need for blood as a metaphor for drug addiction, once he tastes human blood, Jacob quickly starts a downward spiral into madness and despair.
Despite its similarities to these two films, MIDNIGHT SON stands on its own when it comes to acting, direction, and story. Writer/director Scott Leberecht takes his sweet old time, relying on many a quiet moment allowing Jacob’s character to silently shine through as his hunger develops and overcomes him. This film definitely snowballs with Jacob first discovering a taste for raw meat, but when that fails to quell his grumbling stomach, he ups the ante by trying to break into a hospital hazardous waste dumpster looking for discarded blood. When an employee catches Jacob in the search for blood, he exploits the need, stringing Jacob along like a drug dealer to a junkie.
I also really loved the patience this story has and the unconventional ways it uses well-tread vampire standards. We’ve seen the beast within rage uncontrollably during a sexually charged moment, but we haven’t seen the vamp rage within triggered by a cocaine nosebleed. Later moments depict the vampire’s aversion to the sun in effective and imaginative ways.
The acting here is top tier. Zak Kilberg, who plays Jacob, is reserved and teeters between wholesome boy next door and quiet serial killer type. Looking a little bit like a cross between Joseph Gordon Levitt and Ed Norton, Kilberg does a great job bringing to life this complex character. Props should also be given to Maya Parish in a brave performance as a girl attracted to Jacob but sporting secrets of her own. Character actors Larry Cedar (DEADWOOD) and Tracy Walter (BATMAN, CONAN THE DESTROYER) add some nice secondary performances here as well. With Jo D. Jonz offering a lot of bite as the despicable blood pusher taking advantage of Jacob’s addiction.
Leberecht delivers a truly harrowing experience in MIDNIGHT SON as Jacob discovers that he is not a human being, but a creature of the night. This film is not without a heavy dose of angst, but unlike TWILIGHT, which dumbs complex emotions down to dullard degrees, MIDNIGHT SON is a sophisticated film about addiction, relationships, and understanding who one is. Lacking in schmaltz and lameness seen in heaping doses in TRUE BLOOD, VAMPIRE DIARIES, and TWILIGHT, MIDNIGHT SON is a much more effective and touching take on vampirism.
THE 2012-2013 COUNTDOWN!
M. L. Miller is a wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of MLMILLERWRITES.COM. Follow @Mark_L_Miller.
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