REVIEW: MIDNIGHTERS (2018)

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MIDNIGHTERS (2018)

Thriller opens with pretty Lindsay Pittman (Alex Essoe from Starry Eyes and The Neighbor) tied to a chair and gagged with duct tape. Then we go back a few hours to find out how and why she’s there. Driving home from a New Years Eve party, down-on-their-luck couple Lindsay and Jeff (Dylan McTee) hit a man on a remote road in the woods. The man appears to die before they can get help and the couple take the body home, concerned with the consequences of the man being dead and that they both were drinking. That’s when things start to go wrong. The man is not dead, has a gun and after surprising Lindsay’s sister Hannah (Perla Haney-Jardine), is really killed when she gets hold of his weapon. Even worse, when going through his things, Jeff, Lindsay and Hannah find their home was the gunman’s objective all along. And thus begins a tale of hidden money, betrayal, double-crossing and murder.

Flick is well directed by Julius Ramsay from a script by Alston Ramsay and is a solid thriller. Film sets up a tense enough situation with a couple already facing hard times, thinking they killed a man and not wanting to deal with the consequences. Things get worse as they find the man had a gun and their address in his wallet. Who was he and why was he heading to their home? The story slowly unfolds, as thrillers like this traditionally do, as Police come knocking at their door, a mysterious detective (Ward Horton) shows up soon after and a cache of cash has everyone turning guns, duct tape and other household torture devices on each other. It’s well done and while not quite as gripping as hoped, it is still solid entertainment that offers up some nice betrayals, twists and some horror movie level violence, murder and bloodshed. By it’s satisfying conclusion all secrets are revealed, questions answered and a fitting trail of bodies left. To say anymore would be to spoil some deviously entertaining moments.

The Ramsays have a fairly good cast to support their script and direction. Alex Essoe once again proves she’s an actress to watch with a solid performances as Lindsay. Mrs. Pittman seems to be caught in the middle of all this and Essoe gives her some life, depth and resourcefulness as we watch a woman toughen up and try to turn things in her favor in an increasingly disturbing situation. She’s a good actress and can play both sympathetic and strong very well. Dylan McTee was efficient as Jeff, but could have used a bit more intensity. Maybe it’s just that his character is not at his best when our story begins and is, when all is said and done, not as strong as his wife. He’s not a wuss, but his character could have used a bit stronger presence. Perla Haney-Jardine is solid as Hannah. She’s not new to trouble and it’s no surprise that some of the Pittman’s current woes might have Hannah’s fingerprints on them. Finally we have a malice laced performances by Morristown, N.J. native Ward Horton as the mysterious Detective “Smith”. Let’s just say he’s not a nice guy and his being a detective may be questionable, too. Horton makes for a slimy and charismatic villain which always benefits movies like this.

Overall, this was a solid and entertaining thriller that rolled out the story nicely and deviously. It could have used a bit more intensity, but was still a well done movie with some nice backstabbing and other kinds of stabbing to keep us in our seats. There were some good performances, especially from lead actress Alex Essoe, which enhanced the characters and thus the effectiveness of this blood-soaked thriller. Recommend for a night of noir-ish thrills and entertainment on the couch.

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 3 rolls of duct tape.

 

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SUSPENSE THRILLER “MIDNIGHTERS” GETS A TRAILER!

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As a big fan of actress Alex Essoe (Starry Eyes, Tales Of Halloween, The Neighbor) we’re always happy around here to see she’s got another flick coming out. This looks like it could be another impressive role for the actress, as well as, a solid feature debut for director Julius Ramsay from Alston Ramsey’s script. Flick premiers at The Los Angeles Film Festival on 6/19/17 and hopefully a more mainstream release of some kind soon after!

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source: internet

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: ANNABELLE (2014)

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ANNABELLE (2014)

(Clicking the highlighted links brings you to corresponding reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

I’m not the biggest fan of The Conjuring. It was a well made film and had some spooky moments but, not nearly as good as it’s reputation suggests and it doesn’t hold up with repeat viewings. The film was a big hit, though and as money is what runs Hollywood, they couldn’t wait to pry more cash out of the pockets of The Conjuring‘s audience…and there are few better examples of a heartless, soulless, cash grab than this flick.

The unimaginative story takes place in the 70s, a year before the opening scene of The ConjuringWe have young couple John (Ward Horton) and Mia (Annabelle Wallis) expecting their first child and, of course, John celebrates this by buying the creepiest doll possible for his doll collector wife. That night their neighbors are slaughtered by their cultist daughter (Tree O’Toole) and her equally wacky boyfriend who, for some reason, decide to visit Mia and John after slaying mommy and daddy. There is an altercation in which Mia is stabbed but, the police arrive and kill the boyfriend while the daughter “Annabelle” commits suicide while holding the creepy doll…for the sole reason of setting up a horror film. Mia survives, as does their newborn daughter but, before you can say “burning Jiffy-Pop” the couple are besieged with every overused cliché in the horror movie manual as some demonic force has come to claim the baby’s soul.

With flat and by-the-numbers direction from John R. Leonetti and a completely unimaginative script by Gary Dauberman, this film can only be seen as the transparent attempt for quick cash that it is. There is literally nothing we haven’t seen before here and that would be fine if Leonetti directed these horror tropes with even the slightest bit of passion or energy. It barely follows a cohesive story as it runs through every cliché it can in it’s 99 minutes. We get flashing lights, dolls changing position, thrown out objects returning to their owners…without much concern either…and demonic creatures glimpsed in the shadows. We also get the stereotypical character who knows all about the occult and just happens to run a book shop down the block. Conveniently there to befriend and then help the embattled couple, since the stereotypical holy man only gets bitch-slapped by the evil force. This flick rips off practically every demonic evil and haunting movie that’s come before it and does so brazenly…it actually takes balls to blatantly rip-off the climax of one of the greatest horror movies ever made and not even have the respect to pay homage or give it a nod. At least James Wan freshened up the familiar material. They don’t even try here and that is the most insulting thing of all about this flick, the incredibly lazy, lack of effort to even remotely create something actually of merit. Did the director even show up on set? The wooden performances by it’s leads…and it almost takes an effort to get a boring performance out of Alfre Woodward…and the totally bland camera set-ups, makes me question if Leonetti was home watching The View and counting his money on his couch while one of his production assistants hit the “on” button on the camera. There is just no heart or effort in this film at all.

Annabelle is a completely obvious…and sadly successful…prequel/spin-off that doesn’t even have the cleverness to at least be cohesive with the film it is a prequel to. In The Conjuring it’s stated that there actually is no real Annabelle, it was a name the demon made up in the guise of a child spirit, yet, here we have a character named Annabelle whose death with the doll gives it it’s name. Did Dauberman even watch Wan’s flick? This is not only a complete waste of time but, a sad example of how little the studio beancounters care about the fans of a hit film. I can undertand wanting to keep the momentum going till Wan gets around to an actual sequel but, at least try to give the audience something worth their hard-earned cash…at least TRY! Not the worst movie I’ve seen but, lazy to the point of insulting.

-MonsterZero NJ

1 and 1/2 dolls!

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