Midnight Movie (2008)
Directed by Jack Messitt

Starring Daniel Bonjour Greg Cirulnick Rebeka Brandes Stan Ellsworth

A surprisingly good, no-frills, low-budget horror film, "Midnight Movie" had some success on the festival circuit before enjoying a limited theatrical release in October of 2008 before finally hitting DVD in January of '09.

Professionally shot with an adequate cast, the movie doesn't pretend to be anything more than a good slasher movie. It's actually a very good slasher movie, one that deserved a wider release. But in an era where only remakes can get a wide theatrical release, this one was basically destined for DVD.

The film opens in an insane asylum where Radford, an aging homicidal movie maker, is set to re-view the horror movie he made back in the late 1960s, as part of his therapy. All hell breaks loose at the asylum during the viewing with most of the inmates and staff in the unit slaughtered and the mad director vanished.

Flash forward six years. The same movie is now set to play at a midnight screening at a town theater, with only a small audience expected to show up. Also in attendance are the cop and Radford's former psychiatrist, worried that the missing madman may show up to the only screening of his horror movie in decades.

As the movie unreels before us, the events in the film begin merging with events in the theater, with the killer seemingly exiting the screen and killing off members of the staff dumb enough to go off onto their own. Things get even more supernatural after the teens and adult authority figures realize this is happening and discover they can't leave the theater -- it has entered some kind of supernatural no man's land where cel phones don't work.

Combining elements of "A Nightmare on Elm Street" and John Carpenter's "Cigarette Burns" (a similar but superior episode of "Masters of Horror"), "Midnight Movie" does deliver a clever twist ending and enough suspense (and gore) to qualify it as a recommended title. It also contains a little bit of refreshing sleaze to make it even more interesting.

Its weak points are a less-than-terrifying looking slasher and too much grungy heavy metal on the soundtrack. But all in all, horror fans will find that the film delivers the goods. Just don't set your expectations too high.

A solid horror movie that deserved a wider release, "Midnight Movie" should enjoy a long shelf life in video rental stores.

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-- Review by Lucius Gore

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