Why does anyone go into the woods? Let’s face it, it never leads to anything but bad times involving the psychotic, inbred locals. Occasionally Bigfoot might show up, but usually, the locals are more than enough to ruin your plans. Case in point MINUTES TO MIDNIGHT, the new film from Christopher Ray (ASSAULT ON VA-33, 3 HEADED SHARK ATTACK and son of Fred Olen Ray). If these kids had just decided to party in town, none of this would have happened.

The script by Victoria Dadi and Christopher M. Don is familiar from the pre-credit kill sequence on. A group of friends decides to have a New Year’s Eve party in an isolated cabin. The assorted rumours of murders and disappearances don’t phase them. Neither does the warning of a major storm and the personal warning from the sheriff (Richard Grieco, IMPACT EVENT, ART OF THE DEAD). There’s also the mysterious hiker Travis (John Hennigan NEVER LEAVE ALIVE, DAVE MADE A MAZE) looking for his missing brother.

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On the other side, there’s a family of, wait for it, murderous lunatics living in a house decorated with body parts. Coincidentally one of them, Gimple, is played by Bill Moseley (BOAR, CREPITUS) who has some experience living in places like that via HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES and TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2. There’s also Angus (Aaron Aguilera) who has a thing for making weapons out of the bodies of his victims. Of course, the two groups end up in bloody combat by night’s end. Who will survive to see in the new year, and what will be left of them.

The cast is sprinkled with the usual mix of past their prime stars, Grieco, William Baldwin (BACKDRAFT), Dominique Swain (BLOOD CRAFT, ASTRO) to slap on the poster though it’s up-and-coming talent like Hennigan and Mercy Malick that should be getting the attention. The film makes good use of Hennigan’s time in the WWE, letting him brawl extensively with the hulking Angus, and their fights are excellent. Malick oozes nastiness and evil as the female psychopath Calypso.

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Despite marketing that references THE STRANGERS, this is a pretty straight forwards backwoods slasher. Right down to the “surprise” revelations of old injustices and just who is related to whom. For what it is, MINUTES TO MIDNIGHT is pretty good. There are plenty of kills and practical effects, characters that won’t stay dead and bare skin. Given the director’s genetics, did you expect there not to be?

A familiar story told well if predictably, MINUTES TO MIDNIGHT debuts on VOD July 3 and DVD September 4 from Uncork’d Entertainment.

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