Review: MIDNIGHTERS (2017)

How far would you go, and what would you do for money, say thirty thousand dollars? That’s what the cast of MIDNIGHTERS the debut film from brothers Julius (director) and Alston (writer) Ramsay are going to find out. I don’t think I’m giving a lot away when I say they’re willing to do a lot of nasty things.

Lindsay (Alex Essoe, FACELESS, RED ISLAND) and Jeff Pittman (Dylan McTee, SWEET/VICIOUS, THE WIND) are a couple under stress, most of it financial. He was a pro athlete whose career tanked, and now it’s only her job that keeps the bills (barely) paid. Things go from bad to “you’re fucked” driving home from a New Year’s Eve party when a drunk Jeff hits a pedestrian. Panicking, they throw his body in the car and head for home to figure out what to do.

Things manage to get even worse when Lindsay’s sister Hannah (Perla Haney-Jardine) turns up and puts several bullets in the now recovered man. It seems he was actually on his way to the Pittman residence for reasons unknown when Jeff hit him. The morning brings a visit from two patrolmen and then from a Detective Smith (Ward Horton, ANNABELLE). Of course, he isn’t what he appears to be and has a connection to not only the dead man but to Hannah.

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A Hitchcockian thriller that strays into horror territory by way of its torture scenes, MIDNIGHTERS is a good film that unfortunately suffers from placing style over substance. It piles on the twists and keeps escalating the situation while leaving the characters horribly undeveloped. With many of the developments being kicked into motion by people’s choices, it would be nice to know why they do what they do.

Alston Ramsay being a first-time scriptwriter, it’s not surprising there are flaws in the film, but it’s odd that characters not getting their points across would be it. Prior to getting into the industry, he was a speechwriter for the likes of Secretary of Defence Robert Gates, General David Petraeus, and Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson. You would think being able to make the character’s motivations understood would be his strong point.

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His brother Julius is also making his feature debut, but at least has the experience of working as a director and editor on THE WALKING DEAD and BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, among other shows. He keeps the film from losing itself as things become more convoluted and over the top. It would have been easy for MIDNIGHTERS to become almost a parody, intentionally or not. He keeps everyone playing it straight until the end.

All told, MIDNIGHTERS is a good enough thriller that should appeal to horror fans as well. It could and should have been better, but it’s still good enough to watch. Something that can’t be said about a lot of current films.

IFC MIDNIGHT will release MIDNIGHTERS in Theaters, on VOD and Digital HD on March 2, 2018.

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