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Midnight Peepshow (2022) Review

Midnight Peepshow begins with an obviously drunk man staggering through the streets of London on Valentine’s Day. This is Graham White (Richard Cotton, The Living and the Dead, Unloved Ones) and he’s already had a very rough night that includes losing his wallet.

After getting some money and a couple of drinks from his friend Miles (Mark Hampton, World War Z, One More Shot) he sees a message from The Black Rabbit pop up on the man’s phone. He offers him a warning not to get involved with it, which Miles brushes off. He staggers back out into the night, buys some drugs, and stumbles deeper into the city’s seedier regions. There he sees an establishment whose neon sign reads Midnight Peepshow.

Written by Jake West and Airell Anthony Hayles, both of whom also have their own segments, and directed by Ludovica Musumeci (I Am, Through His Eyes) Graham’s interaction with this establishment and its proprietor Madame (Chiara D’Anna, Berberian Sound Studio, A Dice With Five Sides) forms the wraparound for the three stories he’ll see in its booths. And you can be sure that what he sees isn’t what he was expecting, the first hint of that being the questions the girl in the booth tosses at him.

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The first story, “Personal Space” is from writer/director Airell Anthony Hayles (Heckle, They’re Outside). It’s the story of an unhappily married couple, Alice (Roisin Browne, The Host, The Peripheral) and David (David Wayman, The Ledge, Demon Baby) who have their Valentine’s Day interrupted by an intruder (Ocean Harris, Dirty Games, The Underdog).

This starts off in a way that had me thinking it would play out one of two ways. Then as things are revealed it goes somewhere totally different and ends on a fittingly nasty note. It’s much better than I expected based on his features that I’ve seen.

Anthony Edwards (Vampire of Soho, Zombie Spring Breakers) gives Midnight Peepshow its second segment “Fuck, Mary, Kill”. Helen (Miki Davis, Bloodstream, Surrounded) clad in a bridal gown, wakes up in what looks like an abandoned warehouse. There are three bound men, two from her past, one who seems to be a complete stranger in the room with her.

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The voice of an unseen Games Master (Zach Galligan, Waxwork, Evil Little Things) tells them they’re going to play a game. And if Helen can’t decide which of the three men deserve each option, they’ll all die courtesy of the shock collars they’re wearing.

Think of this episode as The Dating Game if Jigsaw was the host, and you’ll have a good idea what to expect. Not being a fan of the Saw films, I wasn’t expecting much from this, and despite several moments of amusingly dark and nasty humour the format and lack of likeable characters left it my least favourite segment.

“The Black Rabbit” by Jake West (Mancunian Man: The Legendary Life of Cliff Twemlow, Evil Aliens) ties everything together as we find out how Graham’s wife Isabel (Sarah Diamond, Departure) got involved with The Black Rabbit and how it dragged them both down a rabbit hole. One that investment guru Graham may have helped dig.

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While this segment is better than the one before it, it suffers from several plot developments that don’t make sense, and characters who act illogically even by horror movie standards. It does have some strong moments and striking visuals which help to distract from that. It also has a chainsaw, but unfortunately, the CGI results are more likely to provoke laughter than anything else.

The wraparound ends things on a somewhat disappointing note as well. It’s fairly predictable, and the camera shies away from showing the gore. In fact, that’s a valid criticism for Midnight Peepshow as a whole. It’s a film that revolves around the intersection of sex, violence, dark desires and how far people will go for a thrill. But it’s also a remarkably tame film in terms of what it puts on the screen. Everyone has sex with their clothes on, and violence tends to be off-screen or toned down, as if the filmmakers were embarrassed by the material and were backing away rather than embracing it.

Between that and neither of the other segments being able to match the impact of the opener, Midnight Peepshow ends up being too tame to really satisfy as an exploitation film and not well enough written to excel as mainstream horror. As a result, it ends up only being slightly above average rather than the standout it could have been.

Dark Star Pictures will release Midnight Peepshow to Digital Platforms on February 13th.

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