Genre : Thriller-Horror
Country : USA
Director: Julius Ramsay
Midnight, New Year’s Eve: when all the hopes of new beginnings come to life – except for Lindsey and Jeff Pittman, whose strained marriage faces the ultimate test after they cover up a terrible crime and find themselves entangled in a Hitchcockian web of deceit and madness.
When it comes to influential film directors few have been as influential as Alfred Hitchcock. Best known for films like Psycho and The Birds, his vast filmography has become the template for any director wanting to make a thriller. In fact, nearly four decades since his death Hitchcock’s fingerprints can be seen in critically acclaimed movies like Nocturne Animals, Don’t Breathe and 10 Cloverfield Lane. The latest film to take influence from the master is IFC Midnight’s thriller, Midnighters.
New Year’s is supposed to be a time of renewal and change. This is particularly true for Jeff and Lindsey, a couple in a troubled marriage. On the way home from a New Year’s party their lives are changed forever when Jeff drunkenly hits someone with his car. Deciding to try and hide the body Jeff and Lindsey are thrust into a situation they are not prepared for and reveal sides of themselves that should have never been seen.
A mix of home invasion and crime-thriller, the success of a movie such as Midnighters depends on the strength of its cast. Luckily, the cast of Midnighters is more than up to the task. Most impressive is our lead Alex Essoe. Best known for 2014’s Starry Eyes she is flawless as the Lindsey, a bank teller that gets caught up in everything. Not only does she do a good job selling that she’s in over her head but you believe that she has really been pushed to her limits. The other stand out is Annabelle‘s Ward Horton as Smith. Unlikable as soon as he knocks on Lindsey’s front door. Like a pro wrestling manager, he is the perfect mix of slimy and charismatic.
Perhaps the most impressive person to come out of Midnighters is producer and writer Alston Ramsay. On the surface Jeff and Lindsey just seem like a dysfunctional couple that are in over their head. But as the film develops and secrets are revealed the cast becomes more complex with more understandable motives. Yes, they’re doing awful things but their actions and motivations are understandable if reprehensible. That isn’t to say that his writing is perfect.
Like a lot of thrillers plot twists play a huge factor in the story. but can there be too many? With every character being so unlikable seeing Jeff and Lindsey do terrible things can become a bit rote. With more twists and turns than a game of Roller Coaster Tycoon at a certain point it starts to get predictable. I also found the movie’s look to be pretty bland.
Not that the directing itself bad. Thanks to Julius Ramsay’s television work he is more than up to the challenge of directing a film. The problem arises when it comes to the set design. With the movie taking place either at night or inside of a house under construction every scene tends to look the same. I don’t need a movie to look like Scott Pilgrim vs The World but at a certain point you get tired of the color grey.
While Hitchcockian can be an overused term to describe a movie it’s absolutely perfect for Midnighters. Whether it’s the twists and turns of the plot or limited use of locations the director’s influence is there. Sadly, the Ramsay brothers aren’t quite there skill wise. Dull sets and one too many plot twists take what could have been an interesting indie thriller down a few pegs. Still, with some stellar performances and a mean streak make Midnighters a new year’s eve worth visiting.