Home » Midnight Movie is Tragically Flawed [Retrospective]

Midnight Movie is Tragically Flawed [Retrospective]

The masked killer (Lee Main) in Jack Messitt's 2008 slasher Midnight Movie.
The masked killer from Midnight Movie.

Midnight Movie follows the employees and patrons of a rundown theater on the night the cinema is screening Ted Radford’s The Dark Beneath. Though it was never a major hit, The Dark Beneath is the source of much controversy because it is rumored to be real footage and Ted Radford is known to be a mysterious man with a unique set of skills. What no one realizes – until it’s too late – is that Ted Radford is actually trapped inside the celluloid on which the film is printed. He begins killing audience members from inside the film by using his unique set of skills and soon becomes strong enough to escape the confines of his movie, thereby re-entering reality, where more killing takes place.

Jack Messitt’s Midnight Movie gets some things right but it has more than enough flaws to keep it from ever being truly enjoyable. It brings a handful of unique ideas to the table but it often feels like an amalgamation of different films, most of which are far superior in quality. Mark Garbett and Jack Messitt’s script is a little bit of A Nightmare on Elm Street, a hint of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and a touch of Shocker mixed in.

The acting in Midnight Movie is downright awful. One the bright side, the worst actors get killed off first. But those left behind aren’t exactly turning in award-worthy performance. There aren’t a lot of particularly likable characters in the film, either, so the audience is likely to find little about this film to invest in.

The effects in Midnight Movie are one of its (only) strengths. They aren’t that bad. The FX in the film are better than the effects in a lot of other micro-budget films But considering that the bar is set pretty low, that is not necessarily saying a lot.

In addition to having passable effects, the film’s pacing is also somewhat effective. It’s a short flick, coming in at under 80 minutes but it doesn’t wander off the beaten path too much during that time.

There’s almost no character development and the only real backstory the viewer is introduced to is that of the killer. That lack of any sort of character development or backstory does free up more time for chase scenes and the deaths of the film’s obnoxious protagonists.

Midnight Movie does build a small amount of suspense on a couple of occasions and has a few cool death scenes throughout. While it may be worth a look for the die-hard slasher completist, most people will find very little to enjoy about director Jack Messitt’s misguided outing.

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Written by Tyler Doupé
Tyler Doupe' is the managing editor at Wicked Horror. He has previously penned for Fangoria Mag, Rue Morgue Mag, FEARnet, Fandango, ConTV, Ranker, Shock Till You Drop, ChillerTV, ComingSoon, and more. He lives with his husband, his dog, and cat hat(s).
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