Updated: Jul 19, 2021
The 289th review!
I played Friday the 13th with my BFFs for the first time in an extremely long time. That game is so much fun. While I don’t enjoy trolling people in video games, I admit we were running over counselors after fixing the car. I’m sorry, but that never stops being funny... I also watched a movie! I decided to check out...
The Midnight Man (2016). Hulu
In the past few months I finally stumbled on the Creepypasta stories on Reddit. They post a lot of scary stories that involve people’s brushes with the paranormal or rituals that allow you to personally get a taste of the supernatural. It’s all made up and silly but everyone plays it straight. It’s an entertaining bit of performance theatre where people tell a story and then others respond with sympathy or ways to get out of their current predicament. The burning of sage is a popular remedy.
In the case of the the Midnight Man, well, summed up you have to go through certain steps to start the game. Once it begins at the stroke of midnight, it’s essentially a game of hide and seek. There are rules you have to follow, but the big thing is you need is a candle and a house. Once the game starts it lasts until 3:33 AM. You’re supposed to keep moving and stay away from the entity and you can’t turn on the lights. If your candle goes out it means he’s near you and you have 10 seconds to relight it. If you can’t do that, you need to create a circle of salt and you can’t leave it until the time runs out, if you do, he gets you and it’s not pleasant.
I like the idea of more of these stories being made into movies, I just wish this one was better. The movie opens with three young people playing the game back in the 1950’s and things are not going well. One leaves the circle and is killed, another breaks the rules, leaves the house and explodes.
We fast forward to present day and I’m shocked to learn that Lin Shaye is in this movie. She’s sick, probably from the overacting in this movie, so her granddaughter is taking care of her. The granddaughter is doing her best because Shaye keeps going through intense mood swings and for the most part they’re threatening and loud. The movie tries to explain her later but it just brings up more questions than answers. Then through some tomfoolery that’s not really believable, the granddaughter, Alex and her beau Miles, start the game, and eventually a friend of theirs comes over to play as well.
I wanted to write this movie had potential, but the more I think about the “Midnight Man” stories I read, it’s one of the less interesting rituals. It’s just hide and seek with a way to turtle until the final buzzer. For the movie it’s a cat and mouse game where the mice do everything they can to make it easy for the cat. Multiple times they warn each other they can’t stay in one spot, but they spend a LOT of time standing around spouting exposition, or in one case, instead of rushing to save their friend Kelly currently dealing with the monster, they do a little kissing.
I mentioned Shaye earlier, and at one point she has a fainting episode so they call the doctor. Much to my surprise, Robert Englund shows up! A movie that only has about 15 characters total, they managed to get two horror icons. We find out his connection to the house and Shaye and it’s not bad because he fills in some much-needed details about the game and Shaye’s character.
One thing I liked about the movie is the Midnight Man is a cheating asshole. In the actual ritual, there’s strict rules everyone, including the entity has to follow. He’s just a force of nature, there to do a job. He comes in, does his work and clocks out for the most part. But the movie Midnight Man has a personality and gets really salty, so he cheats. If you’re in a salt ring he finds a way to get you out or he outright destroys the ring. Englund tells them he “hates to lose” so he cheats like crazy to stack the deck. Plus, his Tony Todd impression is pretty scary the first few times you hear it, but he gets a little too chatty for my liking.
It’s not terrible, I liked Robert Englund’s part and their friend, Kelly’s showdown with the monster are the highlights of the movie. While Midnight Man is cheating, she finds a way to counter his shenanigans and they both shit talk one another for a bit. It was the one part I was genuinely interested in while watching and I did get an “oh shit” moment once MM decided he had enough of her trying to outsmart him.
The acting is OK, it’s passable. Lin Shaye isn’t used well, just spends most of the movie yelling or trying to be creepy and mysterious. Robert Engund is great doing his best to make his small part shine. The others, outside of Kelly don’t act like they’re in danger for the most part. Even after they encounter him, they spend a lot of time standing in one spot out in the open. There are some creepy moments and the frantic rush to relight the candles makes for some decent sequences, but meh to the rest.
I don’t quite understand the ending and it annoyed me because it didn’t even come close to explaining why what went down was allowed to happen. Then, it doesn’t even show you what actually happened, you just get a bit of dialogue from some new people kind of handwaving it all away. The movie tries to end on a semi cliffhanger, a young boy and his father find the box with the game’s instructions, but there’s no way it’s going to happen again. As a dad, there is a 0% chance I ever let President Baby play a game where you have to prick your finger with a needle and smear the blood on a piece of paper.
5 Dr. Chainsaws!
The Midnight Man: Play Movies
92 minutes Horror
It was supposed to be just an urban legend... On a snowy night in her grandmother's sprawling mansion, teenage Alex (Gabrielle Haugh) and her best friend Miles (Grayson Gabriel) discover a mysterious box hidden away in the attic. Inside are instructions for The Midnight Game, an ancient Pagan ritual said to summon the players' greatest fears. It all seems like harmless fun-until they unleash the terrifying spirit of The Midnight Man, an unholy force who pits them against their darkest demons and dares them to survive. Horror legends Robert Englund and Lin Shaye (A Nightmare on Elm Street) costar in this terrifying, supernatural game of cat and mouse. Play at your own risk...