BARE BONES: THE MIDNIGHT MAN (2016)

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THE MIDNIGHT MAN (2016)

Creepypasta based flick finds emotionally troubled teen Alex (Gabrielle Haugh) caring for her dementia inflicted grandmother, Anna (Lin Shaye) in her old house. When she and boyfriend Miles (Grayson Gabriel) are poking around in the attic, they find what appears to be some sort of game. The Midnight Game involves inviting a malevolent spirit, known as The Midnight Man, into the house and then trying to evade him until 3:33 AM. If you do, you win. If you don’t…he claims you. Not taking it seriously, Alex and Miles begin to play not realizing the game is all too real…and so is The Midnight Man!

While yet another urban legend/boogeyman flick, Midnight Man is elevated by the presences of horror vets Robert Englund, as Anna’s old friend and physician Dr. Goodberry and Lin Shaye. It’s also well directed by Travis Z (Travis Zariwny) who wrote the script based on a screenplay by Rob Kennedy, from Kennedy’s own 2013 film about this creepypasta urban legend. Despite a fairly routine story, the film is atmospheric and entertaining and has a very effective visual style. Travis Z may not have concocted the most original film, but he still redeems himself here after the awful Cabin Fever remake, with some solid and spooky direction. It’s not perfect. The film’s boogeyman isn’t really all that scary, though Lin Shaye’s disturbing portrayal of Anna certainly makes up for it, and the characters seem willing to believe the game is real a little too quickly. Overall, though, what could have been another cookie cutter teen-centric horror, stands out a bit from the pack with some atmospheric direction from Travis Z, some generous blood and gore and the good use of two horror icons to support the young cast. Also stars Emily Haine as Alex’s friend Kelly who joins in on the game and has one of the spookier sequences.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

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BARE BONES: JEEPERS CREEPERS 3 (2017)

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JEEPERS CREEPERS 3 (2017)

Odd sequel takes place between the first and second films opening directly after the end of the first. One aspect of the story finds a relentless lawman (Stan Shaw) in pursuit of the Creeper (Jonathan Breck), who he faced 23 years earlier and a woman, Gaylen (Meg Foster), whose farm holds a secret the Creeper wants kept that way. Obviously, many innocents get caught in the middle including Gaylen’s granddaughter Addison (Gabrielle Haugh).

Victor Salva writes and directs again and the film comes across as a bit of a disjointed mess. There are multiple stories running at once with the villainous Creeper bouncing back and forth between them. This gives the film a very fractured continuity and the editing seems just as uneven. Having the film sandwiched between the first and second robs us of any hope of a satisfying conclusion, as we know the Creeper has a busload of kids to kill and the end cameo by a first film cast member only seems to indicate this whole thing was a set-up for a fourth flick, anyway. The dialog is outright awful in spots and some of the acting is no thrill either. The CGI effects are downright terrible and giving the Creeper’s van a host of James Bond meets Freddy Krueger traps and gadgets is just plain silly. An extremely sub-par sequel that adds nothing to the franchise mythos and whose only purpose seems to be to act as a place holder for a fourth film. This review is based on the SYFY Channel presentation and not the theatrical cut, which is apparently longer and may solve some of the editing inconsistencies.

PERSONAL NOTE: I certainly do not condone or support Victor Salva’s activities leading to his incarceration in 1988 for sexual misconduct with a minor. I watch his films only to provide others with critique and commentary on his film work. Such improper activities, should be punished to the full extent of the law no matter what the perpetrator has accomplished in his professional life.

-MonsterZero NJ

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