Wednesday, June 13, 2018

THE MIDNIGHT MAN (2016) (Scream Factory Blu-ray Review)


Label: Scream Factory / IFC Midnight
Region Code: A
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 93 Minutes
Audio: English DTS-HD MA Stereo 2.0, Surround 5.1 with Optional English Subtitles
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (2.40:1)
Director: Travis Z
Cast: Lin Shaye, Gabrielle Haugh, Grayson Gabriel, Emily Haine, Louise Linton, Michael Sirow, Robert Englund

From director Travis Z (the Cabin Fever remake) comes yet another remake - this time it's a remake of an Irish supernatural chiller, the film opens in 1953 where we find three young children playing a strange board game in a mansion, an occult game with a very specific set of rules which when executed properly summons a demonic urban legend named The Midnight Man, who stalks you around the house until a certain time, preying in your deepest fears. Game night ends with two of the children dead, one is gruesomely decapitated while the other pops like a blood-filled zit outside the home, spraying blood over the snow-covered lawn. It's honestly a pretty fantastic little opening with some surprising gore. From here we go modern day, we have teenager Alex (Gabrielle Haugh) caring for her senile granny Anna (Lin Shaye, Insidious) at the very same mansion from the open of the film, in fact in turns out that granny is the lone survivor of that gruesome night.

While rummaging through the attic of the home Alex and her friend Miles (Grayson Gabriel) stumble across a strange box hidden away inside a trunk, inside it they find the Midnight Game game complete with written instructions, and decide have a go at it, even after granny catches them in the act and nearly strokes out at the sight of the game, you think that would warn them off of it, but nope, they go forward, even after having to call a doctor to check in on granny,  by the way the doc is played by horror legend Robert Englund (A Nightmare on Elm Street), not that it matters. Despite being incredibly complicated with it's myriad of rules involving protective circles of salt, knocking on doors and keeping candles lit, they start the game, and also invite their friend Kelly (Emily Haine) over to play, and she's totally into it, she immediately drops some creepy[pasta knowledge on them, already aware of the game, but as expected she's just more meat for the demonic-game grinder. 

The movie is well-made and attractively shot,  but the story is too been-there-and-done-that, and don't even get me started on character motivations, I don't know what any of these people were even thinking, the game is so hard to get going I never would have gotten it started, let alone having to worry about the elderly relative you're supposed to be taking care of! I do have a soft spot for urban legends and folkloric horror though, so I did enjoy the premise to a degree and I like the look of the cloaked reptilian Midnight Man, but the rules as complicated as they were didn't seem to matter all that much when it's revealed that the demon regularly cheats anyway! 

This is not a horrible movie, but it's perhaps something worse than horrible, it's largely forgettable, pissing away the considerable talents of Lin Shaye and Robert Englund with poorly written characters. I could see this getting some play on Netflix on a night when nothing else presents itself as viable entertainment, but it's not a movie you're gonna be sitting around turning your friends onto at some later date, you're gonna forget about it an hour later, and someday think to yourself, "what was that one lackluster movie with Lin Shaye and Robert Englund?", and you definitely won't remember the name, because there are at least four other movies with the same generic name, and there will probably be four more by the time you think about this movie again.  

This is another one of the IFC Midnight/Scream Factory titles, they're very hit and miss for me so far, for every The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016) there's four of these. The single-disc Blu-ray includes a trailer for the film and the original Irish film from 2013 which I think is cool that they included, but given that I didn't enjoy the remake all that much I don't know when or if I would ever make the time to watch the original. This release also includes a sleeve of reversible artwork and a slipcover, I'm curious to know how it is decided over at Scream Factory which releases are deserving of a reversible wrap and a slipcover, 

Like the Cabin Fever remake, also directed by Traviz Z, this one is not awful but it's not anything you're gonna be thinking about afterward. I give it that it's a well-made film, the visuals look good, but there no substance, there's nothing original about it, which make The Midnight Man a proverbial one and done for me. 


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