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TEN MINUTES TO MIDNIGHT (2020)
Directed by Erik Bloomquist
Written by Erik Bloomquist, Carson Bloomquist
Starring Caroline Williams, Nicole Kang, Nicholas Tucci, William Youmans, Adam Weppler, Alice Kremelberg, Greg Balla, Martin Sola
Amy (Caroline Williams) fights a brutal thunderstorm and is bit by a bat on her way into her job as a late night radio host. Little does she know that this is her last day as a younger upstart (Nicole Kang) is replacing her after her last gig on her show 10 Minutes to Midnight. Amy doesn’t take the news well and has a mental break, begins seeing monsters, having hallucinations, and basically losing every last shred of her mind.
I lost my job once. It hit me hard. It’s something that I think I am still processing and getting over. So there are moments in 10 MINUTES TO MIDNIGHT that really hit home for me. Caroline Williams delivers a strong performance in a throwback role that is a semi-sequel to her turn as Stretch, the young late-night DJ/final girl from TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE PART II. Imagine if Stretch wasn’t driven insane that night when she fought against the Sawyer clan and stayed in radio for all these years in between and that’s pretty much Amy in this film. Williams is convincing as a talented radio host who has seen her better days pass behind her, yet really isn’t ready for retirement yet. Unfortunately, she doesn’t have a choice in the matter.
10 MINUTES TO MIDNIGHT does a great job of really fleshing out the entire 7 Stages of Grief process as Amy is shocked by the firing, refuses to believe it, attempts to bargain for it, bursts out in rage, falls into a depression, and eventually accepts her fate. All of this is compounded and placed through a horror lens as Amy has suffered from a bat bite and may have rabies or maybe she’s becoming a vampire. The film reaches multiple conclusions, allowing the viewer the freedom to choose what Amy’s fate truly is. This is a descent into madness tale above all else and it’s a good one at that. Williams and the filmmakers Erik and Carson Bloomquist really do a great job of making every step into the abyss nuanced and believable.
Though the film does come in at just an hour and some change, it still manages to sag a bit in the middle of it. There were a few repetitious scenes as Amy relives scenarios a few times as she trips away from sanity. Ultimately, I liked the setup and the resolution, making the journey itself satisfying despite the redundancy. This seems to be a very personal and poignant story for the filmmakers and Williams. Through the years, Williams has stuck with the horror genre and really delivered some solid performances. I’m sure she will deliver many more, but this one feels like a powerful bookend to her career, nevertheless. You won’t be able to predict the story of 10 MINUTES TO MIDNIGHT and while it wears its low budget as a badge of honor, it still manages to tell a tragic and heartbreaking story of loss with some effective horror peppered in for good measure.