The Midnight Game Review

Posted: August 11, 2014 in Horror, Reviews
Tags: , , , , , ,

Midnight GameThe Midnight Game plays out like a loving homage to 80’s horror flicks, but with PG-13 love and horror. The sex is limited to a brief make out session, and the horror mostly to shadows and bumps in the night. The end result is an old fashioned scary movie that invokes more nostalgia than fear. Younger viewers new to the genre can safely cut their teeth on this offering before moving on to more intense fare.

Five high schoolers have an impromptu slumber party when Mom goes out of town, after admonishing young Kaitlan (Renee Olstead) to the last moment, “No parties, no boys.” Kaitlan’s sleepover friends, Rose (Shelby Young) and Jenna (Valentine de Angelis), have a different idea and invite Shane (Guy Wilson) and Jeff (Spencer Daniels) and beer to the festivities.

Shane introduces the group to The Midnight Game, an urban legend exercise in paganism that involves candles, salt, and knocking on wood 22 times. (The greatest unsolved mystery of the movie is the 22 times rather 24 considering, you know, midnight, 24 hours in the day, yada yada yada…) Fail to comply with the rules of the game exactly, and the Midnight Man will appear and cause you to hallucinate your greatest fear until 3:33 am. The precision involved is admirable, but give any teenager a choice between sitting around sober in a salt circle or having wild hallucinations for free, and you know which way this one is going to go.

Director A.D Calvo and screenwriter Rick Dahl deserve credit for introducing and spreading a new urban legend that can take its place alongside Bloody Mary and the Candyman in a short list of slumber party activities. However, the duo are a bit stingy on the scares with only Rose, who confesses to a fear of ghosts, getting a steady stream of frightening scenes. Jenna, whose greatest fear is insanity, has a nice moment when she sees a clown’s face in a cloud, and Calvo has the good sense to share that image with the audience.

The film runs a brisk 74 minutes, and in an era in which too many movies overstay their welcome with extraneous, repetititive scenes, The Midnight Game‘s brevity does add to its wit and other charms. That said, Calvo and Dahl would have been well advised to add at least one scene toward the end to bridge the moments between the group’s attempts to break out from the consequences of the game and the rather effective denouement. The start of the end credits are a treat as well with Calvo interspersing screen shots of web sites with information on how to play The Midnight Game.

The cast is fine with no real weak links. Guy Wilson is a standout as the instigator of the trouble, but each of the five leads brings something to the film, and, more importantly, none of them grate. The cinematography of Eun-ah Lee contributes to the 80’s vibe as does Joe Carrano’s music.

Hardcore horror junkies are unlikely to be satisfied with the film, but young teens staying up late on a Friday night will find this just frightening enough.

Two stars.

 

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