Midnight Movie (2008 movie)…

Midnight Movie (2008 movie) after the break…

Midnight Movie (2008 movie)…

Skateboards, to paraphrase a quote, is Nature’s way of separating the boys who will be stupid some day & the boys who are stupid right now.

Film directors, sadly, are no different then those small boys who are at the age where they think that sliding down a metal handrail on a skateboard will somehow either impress their male friends, impress the females enough for them to have sexual intercourse with, or both.

Just like riding down a metal handrail on a skateboard, film directors have similar silly stunts that they perform in their movies. If executed properly, you smile & use that stunt to better enjoy the movie as a whole. If executed poorly, you hit the fast-forward button, muttering to yourself what might have been had the script been handled by someone who didn’t get a “C-” on their final film directing exam. If executed horrifically, you let out a brief laugh & wonder if your neighbor’s dog could have done better.

The film stunt that is called “Movie-within-a-Movie” has been done before. In fact, the movie “Tropic Thunder” (which was reviewed here a little while ago), had a variation of that theme in it’s movie which I would describe as “Fake-Movie-Trailers-In-a-Movie.” We really don’t get to see “Tropic Thunder: the Fake Movie” except for the production of a single scene. The movie “Amazon Women on the Moon” has snippets of a fake 1950’s sci-fi movie running throughout it’s film.

There is a problem that comes with making a “Movie-within-a-Movie”: Quite simply, both movies have to be good & of equal value. If the ‘fake movie’ is bad but the real movie is good, then the fake movie detracts from the real movie. If the fake movie is good but the real movie is bad, then you become more interested in how the fake movie is which makes the real movie really, REALLY bad. If both of them are awful… Well, you shut off the TV & see if anything exciting is happening on the Internet.

I often suspect that most film directors, like most little boys with their skateboarding escapades, take little notice in the many dangers of their “Movie-in-a-Movie” stunt. They must often think that, since the fake movie will only consist of a scene or two (or five or six at the most), that you can quickly bang out a “fake movie” inside of a day or even the lesser part of a week if need be.

“Midnight Movie” (yes, I was getting to the review, have patience) makes this classic blunder of slapping a fake movie into a real movie. In fact, it makes a double blunder – The original “movie-in-a-movie” & then the larger blunder of making such fake film absolutely integral to the plot.

In “Midnight Movie,” a rundown movie theater (not your local megaplex, assuredly) decides to screen an obscure black-and-white slasher flick called “The Dark Beneath.” The film has an ominous history, the director having been incarcerated in a mental institution (haven’t they all?) before brutally escaping, killing most of the staff.

As the film begins, a small but motley crew of filmgoers emerges – Two young teenage couples, a small boy, a police detective, a nerdy teenager & one of the few surviving doctors at the psych facility that the director “escaped” out of. A few more theater staff are also inside but, trust me, they kept their cars running while reading their lines.

In short order, dead bodies inside the theater eventually turn up, their deaths spliced rather unconvincingly into the actual film itself. The remaining moviegoers begin to realize that they are a part of a diabolical re-editing of the movie as they try to survive throughout the morbid showing.

Part of the problem a movie like “Midnight Movie” faces is that it simply can never reach the critical mass necessary to suspend disbelief. We must simply accept that the fake movie makes up it’s own space-time continuum rules that allows the body count to increase. The moviegoers, for instance, can’t attract the attention of a seemingly oblivious police officer right outside the doors of the theater. The film projector showing the movie runs not on electricity (but on evil?) & even reassembles itself when lightly damaged. An open window closes precisely at the right moment for maximum gory effect. The people inside the movie theater, quite simply, are marked for death whether they want it or not.

The “surviving” (more aptly, the last) moviegoers eventually get a peek “inside” the fake movie before it’s a climactic chase to escape the fake movie before the fake movie credits begin to roll. There’s a “blink-and-you’ll-miss-it “bumper” (a short scene after the real movie credits) that adds absolutely nothing to the movie.

There’s simply too many questions to really appreciate this movie. Are all copies of this film haunted? Just this particular one? If so, then how did this copy get out of police custody (and only in five years) to begin with? What if the movie had been played on something like YouTube? Did one of the surviving members “see” the fake movie credits from the other side? Why else would they sacrifice themselves for the “true” survivor(s)? Why not set off the fire alarm in the movie theater?

Admittedly, the glimpse inside the “fake movie” was interesting even if far too brief to give it any inspired detail. The fact that the victims weren’t really “dead” gives this brief glimpse a little bit of mystery as well as some sequel potential. I personally would’ve loved to have seen some indication that this “fake movie” setting was, indeed, fake – Prop food inside a refrigerator or other objects being obvious fakes instead of real as in the real world.

The acting was… Well, if you’re one of the actors in this movie, you can always blame it on the script if you want to sleep well at night. The script didn’t compel me to care about anyone (The first rule of a slasher film? The slasher is the star, the cast are the sheep & sheep don’t need personalities).

The “fake movie” was far from interesting, it’s only bright spot being a moment of nudity from a throwaway starlet. That moment, sadly, captured more of the essence of B-movies from the 1970’s more aptly then either the real movie or the rest of the fake movie. You have to do more then have a Leatherface clone if you want to emulate a 1970’s slasher flick.

There’s no real reason to recommend this film. If you really, REALLY enjoy slasher films, then maybe this film might fill some trivial need. There’s practically no nudity except for a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment. Blood? Yeah, there’s blood but blood only means anything if there are other necessary horror movie components like suspense & depth, which this film has lacking. Originality? Hardly – If counting cliches in this film were turned into a drinking game, most people would be under the table halfway into the film.

Like an 11-year old boy, this film tried the “movie within a movie” trick & failed, landing on the proverbial railing teeth first, testicles second & small of the back third before finally resting on it’s neck at an awkward angle on the concrete. Maybe if the director tried to make one movie & a coherent movie at that, the landing would’ve been a lot more smoother. Better luck next time.


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