Midnight in the Switchgrass (2021) Review

Midnight in the Switchgrass Poster

Midnight in the Switchgrass presented me with a bit of a dilemma. After Cosmic Sin and Out of Death you can imagine the last thing I wanted to watch was another Bruce Willis film. But Megan Fox had impressed me in Till Death which made me want to see it. That and the fact it claimed to have a budget of $15,000,000 which should buy some decent production values convinced me to watch it.

Karl Helter (Bruce Willis, Die Hard) and Rebecca Lombardi (Megan Fox, Transformers) are FBI agents trying to crack a human trafficking ring. Things become complicated when they find that their case may be related to another investigation. Byron Crawford (Emile Hirsch, Son, Killer Joe) has been tracking the serial murderer who would become known as “The Truck Stop Killer” for years. But his superiors refuse to admit the cases are connected. Seeing his chance he teams up with Helter and Lombardi.

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Writer Alan Horsnail and director Randall Emmett utilize the film’s first act to introduce our three leads and their cases. Apart from an undercover Fox beating up a violent john played by her current boyfriend Colson Baker (Bird Box, The Dirt) better known as rapper Machine Gun Kelly, it’s all talk. Thankfully, while Emmett is a first-time director he has over a hundred credits as a producer that includes everything from the 2005 version of The Amityville Horror to Boss Level. Along the way, he learned enough about directing to keep it interesting, or at least watchable, until the start of the second act.

That’s when Peter (Lukas Haas, Dark Was the Night, Inception), a manager for a trucking company whose wife is not happy with the number of runs he’s had to cover lately, enters the story. Almost immediately we see him with a victim. And shortly after that, a meeting between him and Lombardi goes very wrong, leaving Crawford racing to save her.

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Despite being set in Pennsecola Florida sometime in 2004, Midnight in the Switchgrass is billed as being based on the case of Texas’ most dangerous serial killer, Robert Ben Rhoades. Rhoades was a truck driver who left a trail of bodies across the US before an Arizona State Trooper investigating a disabled truck happened across him and his most recent victim in 1990. About all they seem to have kept was Rhoades being a truck driver and his making his cab’s sleeper into a torture chamber.

Midnight in the Switchgrass is billed as a thriller but, until the final act, it’s not very thrilling. It opens like a mystery but then gives the killer away as soon as he appears on screen, wasting the buildup and making much of the dialogue we sat through unnecessary. It starts to pick up a bit after we see Peter take a victim but it’s only after Lombardi is kidnapped and it becomes a race against time to save her that the film gives us any serious thrills or suspense.

And Midnight in the Switchgrass’ final act does a good job of it as the script juggles dual narratives of Lombardi and another victim (Caitlin Carmichael, Martyrs) trying to escape while Crawford, Willis’s character having exited the film by this point, trying to put the pieces together to find her. If it had been able to reach that level sooner it would have been a much better film.

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Instead, Midnight in the Switchgrass is an average film whose first hour is held together by some decent direction and some good performances from Fox and Hirsch as driven law enforcement officers. Haas, while not a particularly imposing presence is quite creepy as the loving husband and father with a taste for rape and murder.

Willis once again makes an extended cameo, delivering a few lines in a couple of scenes. But that’s fine because Midnight in the Switchgrass’ story belongs to Fox and Hirsch’s characters and they do a good enough job of telling it without him.

Lionsgate will release Midnight in the Switchgrass to Digital and VOD on July 23rd. It comes to DVD and Blu Ray on July 27th. You can check their website for more information.

Our Score

Jim Morazzini

Movie buff, gym rat and crazy cat guy

8 thoughts on “Midnight in the Switchgrass (2021) Review

  • July 17, 2021 at 10:25 AM
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    A serial killer can also be a living a normal life as the father of a daughter and a loving husband of a wife, the protagonist of the drama has a dark side of being a psychotic sex pervert who gets prompted by voices from above to kidnap, torture or even to kill a lady who does not appear to him as a good girl.
    It appears to be based on real events .

    Reply
    • July 17, 2021 at 6:05 PM
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      Yes, as I said in the review it is based on a real killer Robert Ben Rhoades, “The Truck Stop Killer”

      Reply
  • July 18, 2021 at 9:47 AM
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    This movie was so poorly written and directed that it doesn’t rise above 2 stars. Emmett is not a director, he’s an overweight putz who should stick to producing bad B-films. The acting is pretty lame. Willis at this point in his life is embarrassing himself with flat performances in nearly every film. Haas basically looks like a retarded version of his eight year old self in Witness. And Fox should stick with releasing sex tapes because her acting is wooden. This looked like a movie Cannon Films would make.

    Reply
  • July 19, 2021 at 1:51 PM
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    Pretty poorly written script(3/10) with very ordinary performance(4/10) and very badly directed(2/10). Save your time on this one. FYI: Bruce Wills is just a dummy in this movie- extended cameo with no substance.

    Reply
    • July 19, 2021 at 8:13 PM
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      Pretty much what I said about Willis in the review. He shows up, says a few lines and leaves before things get good.

      Reply
  • July 19, 2021 at 4:50 PM
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    Poorest movie ive ever watched!
    A loss of an hour and a half of my life

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    • July 19, 2021 at 8:06 PM
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      If that’s the poorest movie you ever watched then you haven’t seen many movies.

      Just the fact that the sound and cinematography are competently done puts it ahead of a lot of films I’ve sat through.

      Reply
  • July 20, 2021 at 5:26 PM
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    I had no intention of wasting my time on another ‘cameo’ Bruce Willis movie with Megan Fox. It’s just laughable. She sucked in a simple movie like Transformers. Do they really think she was going to be good in anything else? It really comes off, and even by the picture, as a movie that skipped the theaters and went straight to rental. Maybe it should…

    Reply

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