Midnighters (NR)

Horror 94 min. March 2, 2018
By April Wolfe
Julius Ramsay's directorial debut thriller Midnighters seems to be tiptoeing toward greatness as it establishes its classically suspenseful premise -- a quarreling couple hits a pedestrian with their car and takes the dead man back to their house only to realize that he may actually have been on his way to kill them. It's the kind of first act that sets up big, rousing questions. Unfortunately, the answers are far less interesting than your speculations.

Married couple Lindsey (Alex Essoe) and Jeff (Dylan McTee) can't even hide their animosity for one another on New Year's Eve. Lindsey "celebrates" at the bar where she works, while Dylan impatiently waits for her outside. The Jeff-is-a-dick alarms are already shrieking when the two drive home and Jeff attempts to Band-Aid their fight with an inappropriate sexual come-on. In perfect horror-movie fashion, he's punished for his misdeeds when, distracted, he hits a pedestrian on the winding, woodsy road leading to the couple's remote home. Now they've got this mess to deal with, something like an I Know What You Did Last Summer but without supernatural stakes. Rather, there is real-world danger, because a crime syndicate is after Lindsey's wild-child sister Hannah (Perla Haney-Jardine), and the three of them are sitting ducks for murderers. Ah! Exciting! This should make for a tense home-invasion thriller!

It doesn't. Watching a guy repeatedly punch a woman while she's incapacitated is far less interesting than watching the two match wits on equal footing. At times, it seems as if the Ramsays have forgotten the potential of the simple story they set up in the first act, opting instead to complicate the narrative unnecessarily.
Julius Ramsay Alex Essoe, Perla Haney-Jardine, Dylan McTee, Ward Horton, Joseph Lee Anderson Alston Ramsay IFC Midnight

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