A fair dose of January horror movies mashed together. The Midnight Man – movie review

*Images courtesy of IMDb*

You would think that bringing back together Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) and Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye) for a paranormal horror movie is the recipe for success, right?

Well, think again.

Written and directed by Travis Zariwny, The Midnight Man tells the story of Alex (Gabrielle Haugh) who, while taking care of her apparently delusional grandma (Shaye), invites her boyfriend over and finds a game in the attic that summons the titular Midnight Man.

The Midnight Man 1.jpgIn case you were wondering where Robert Englund would fit in this story, he plays a doctor who takes care of Shaye’s character, whereas the teenagers are the actual main characters in this January flick. In fact, here lies the first problem with the movie: you have two idiotic kids whose acting isn’t the greatest, who make the silliest and most unbelievable choices you can think of. Thus, between the subpar acting and the lazy script, the suspension of disbelief fails within the first 20 minutes of The Midnight Man.

You know you’re in for a silly, forgettable at best horror movie when, besides the flaws I just mentioned, the first act is filled with false jump-scares and dialogues that won’t serve any purpose other than telling the audience what the characters’ motivations and feelings are.

For all these reasons, I can’t help but notice how much The Midnight Man rips off story, sequences and tone from movies such as Ouija (2014), The Bye Bye Man (2017) and the Insidious franchise, with a good dose of Wish Upon (2017) godawful characters!

Similarly to the aforementioned flicks, this movie is a 90-minute-long collage of fake scares, pointless dialogues and character confrontations, a few effective scenes that are too scattered and sporadic to make up for the rest. As though the filmmakers didn’t disrespect the audience enough by spoon-feeding us with shitloads of exposition scenes, The Midnight Man is filled with flashbacks that have ‘for dummies’ written all over them.

Let’s talk about the villain, the Midnight Man: for the majority of the movie all he does is blowing candles. Wow, how scary and unnerving! Although an actual stuntman (Kyle Strauts) plays him, most of the times he’s on screen his appearance is heavily CGI driven, which makes him less believable and rather cartoonish. Yet, he’s given too much screen time, whereas the movie would have worked better as a “the less you see, the scarier” type of deal, in this case: for example, one of the few redeeming qualities of The Bye Bye Man is that the villain pops up sporadically, enhancing tension and uneasiness of certain scenes (very few scenes, unfortunately).

The Midnight Man 3In all fairness, though, the titular villain is responsible for some of the most interesting sequences in the film, where the filmmakers go for the ultraviolent, gruesome route making for some pleasant killing. These scenes benefit from the well-crafted use of practical effects and right amount of gore, proving that this film would have had potential if only the people in this project tried a bit harder.

The Midnight Man 2On another positive note, as you might expect, Robert Englund and Lin Shaye are a blast in every scene that involves them. The actress who’s currently carrying the Insidious franchise on her shoulders, shines here even more than she does in The Last Key, providing a convincing and unnerving performance. Englund is simply a delight to look at, despite his lines of dialogue being rather silly. However, even these strengths of The Midnight Man frustrate me, since (super tiny spoiler here) Englund is barely in the movie! No jokes, he’s on screen for an overall of 3.52 minutes, despite being a major character in the trailer! This is just disrespectful towards the audience, which will likely feel cheated on.

Even Shaye doesn’t get enough screen time as one might hope for: even though she’s by far the best aspect of The Midnight Man, her onscreen presence is limited to a few scenes and she feels more like a device than an actual protagonist.

This movie might have been a tad (or even a lot) better if only it didn’t take itself so seriously by all means. For example, the atmosphere is oversaturated with murky colours, which hint to a thematic darkness that exists only on paper: instead, The Midnight Man is truly hard to watch due to its monotone shades of dark. Even from a technical standpoint, this flick is dull at best: unimaginative shots mix with plain cinematography and, as I said, a colour scheme that just looks extremely odd and out of place.

All these features considered, my final grade might surprise you. I gave The Midnight Man a not-too-bad grade because, if you can at least ignore the heavy exposition that carries the story along, it could be watchable and, for some, even enjoyable. In addition, I liked Englund and Shaye in the movie and, to be honest, the filmmakers were quite ballsy to include some scenes of extreme gore, which usually don’t belong to formulaic January horror flicks.

The Midnight Man                4/10

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imdb My review will be also available on IMDb – The Midnight Man

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