I’m sitting here wondering if my undying love for Robert Englund and Lin Shaye will prevent me from writing an honest review… So let’s see.
I kind of delayed watching ‘The Midnight Man’. I’ve seen the trailer (which was awesome), expectations were high, Englund was jumping out of my fridge, so I guess I just resisted out of spite. I finally sat down and watched it the other day, and OMG…I will never get those 95 minutes back, so I might as well mourn them publicly.
To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect from this one in the first place. Travis Zariwny (aka Travis Z) is a great guy we all know and love, and his terrific camera department works (Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, 2008) are a matter of public knowledge in Hollywood, and anyone who watched ‘Beyond the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon’ (2006) will tell you that Travis Z is a wizard when it comes to production design. On the other hand, his directorial efforts have been less of a success. Anyone who watched ‘Cabin Fever’ (2016) will ask you WTH just happened and why, oh, why would anyone do something like this. If you’re guessing by now that Zariwny directed it, congrats, you have some useless knowledge piled up as well. Anyway, back to slamming the “movie”…
It started pretty well, with some horrifying scenes which took place in the Luster family home back in 1956. Kids are playing a game inside the circle of salt, and, mmm, pudding hits the fan when one of them gets scared, goes mental and leaves the circle. I must also mention the scene in which one of the boys explodes because he unwisely decided to try to end the game by walking outside of the house. Tsk, tsk, tsk, that is not the way to properly play with demons, kid, but thanks for that awesome explosion scene. This fun flashback ends with a surviving little girl closing the door of the house, as creepy as humanly possible. Meanwhile, in the present day, a gorgeous teenager is inviting her friend over. Apparently, she came to visit her demented grandma, who is portrayed by none other than one of our favorite icons, Lin Shaye (Insidious franchise, Amityville). Needless to say, we immediately realize that she’s the survivor from 1956. After that, it’s just one insult to our intelligence after another.
By now, you probably know I’m not into giving too many spoilers, so I’ll just stop here, and state some of my general observations. First of all, you are never sure with Lin Shaye. She always looks like there are dark layers underneath that charming exterior. In this particular case, we are supposed to believe that she’s just a demented grandma, but we kind of know from the get-go that she’s evil. There’s that scene when she catches the kids with the game and she screams and faints, and if you are human you will jump out of your chair. I know that sounds like a cheap scare, but when Lin Shaye is the one screaming, it’s priceless.
Our beloved Robert Englund had what’s probably the least scary role of his career. He played the good doctor of the family, who tries to help the kids, but gets killed because he lets his emotions get the best of him at one point. The murder of Dr. Harding is one of the highlights of the movie, probably because we get to see one legend of the horror genre kill another. Whatever the case may be, that is one of the scenes from the movie worth mentioning, and there aren’t many. However, I think most of you are wondering about one other Shaye-Englund horror flick now, and yes, 1984’s ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’ was where Englund and Shaye first met, but under much different circumstances and with a terrific guidance of horror visionary, Wes Craven.
This will sound like I’m fishing in the dark, but this movie could actually slide as a parody of ‘Ouija’ (2014). The premise is the same, with the difference of ‘The Midnight Man’ being poorly executed. Actually, so poorly that it looks like a bleached ‘Ouija’. I don’t wanna sound like I’m gloating or anything, because I’m not. I’m very sad that this one didn’t work. We didn’t have the pleasure of seeing Englund and Shaye together on-screen since ‘2001 Maniacs’ (2006), and it should have been great, but…
Anyway, I strongly recommend this movie to those of you who like to waste their lives and feel sorry for themselves. This will be a treat for you guys. As for those of you who like a good horror film, I can’t tell you to skip this one solely because of the fact that you will get to witness that awesome scene between Shaye and Englund. Other than that, there really isn’t much to see here.