It’s always a bummer when you watch a flick you could so easily have loved—but then it either falls apart or doesn’t play on its strengths. So it has its moments but doesn’t become an instant fave. That’s what I experienced watching The Midnight Game and Murderdrome, both of which looked like loads of fun and had enticing running times of less than an hour and fifteen minutes each.
THE MIDNIGHT GAME (2013)
I was so loving The Midnight Game when it first started. A teen invites her friends—2 guys, 2 girls—over to party in her big house when her mother goes away. Soon, they’re trying a pagan ritual that involves lighting candles, sacrificing some blood, summoning a spook, and confessing your worst fear. As long as you keep the candle lit, the spook can’t get you. If the candle goes out, you must stay inside a circle of salt for the night to remain safe. What could possibly go wrong?
The Midnight Game is so perfectly creepy and atmospheric. It’s a real old school “scary night in a house” movie at first. You assume the kids are going to break the rules and be picked off by this demon thing, which would have been fun in itself, but they seem to do everything right. However, they wake up the next morning and life seems to go on. But then it appears they are all about to live out the fears they confessed the night before, which is just as cool.
The film remains creepy, with great performances by the cast, which includes the kid who plays the daughter’s boyfriend on Mom and a cutie who gets his butt whipped during a dream sequence.
But it becomes a mish-mosh of appearances by the (awesomely devilish) demon and some of the kids sort of experiencing their worst fear. It never fully follows through with either element! Just when it seems like it’s building up to some grand finale, a character suddenly throws in some detail of the ritual not mentioned the night before, at which point the plot abruptly concludes with that detail being their downfall!
As much as I love my horror films on the shorter side, it feels like The Midnight Game was an incomplete script. So much more could have happened in the film and it could have benefitted from a longer running time.
Keep an eye out at the end of the film for a short and pointless appearance by the dude who knocks up Jennifer Jason Leigh in Fast Times at Ridgemont High.
A women’s roller derby slasher. Sounds amazing, right? I expected the Australian film Murderdrome to be a wacky, gory, low-budget sexploitation flick—and was partly satisfied.
Here’s the good news:
- The killer is freaky cool: a roller derby chick in leather S&M gear and half her face covered, plus a cleaver in one hand and a hook on a chain in the other.
- The film is saturated in eerie neon light and colors, giving it an 80s indie horror look.
- There’s plenty of quick wit and memorable one-liners, and the girls know how to deliver the material perfectly. But a couple of the girls definitely shine—to the point that you’re totally bummed when they bite it.
- There are some nasty good kills and plenty of blood.
- The appearance of the killer at times is creepy as hell, such as the moment when she’s skating down an alley while running her weapons along the brick walls.
- The charismatic main girl looks pretty much exactly like Ann Wilson of Heart.
Here’s the bad news:
- The simple plot of a roller derby team being hunted by a crazed killer is complicated by a whole cheesy 80s horror plot of the killer being a vengeful roller derby witch from hell. I was kind of reminded of the heavy metal horror flick Trick or Treat.
- An annoying janitor dude who looks like Alice Cooper with Vinnie Barbarino hair keeps harassing the Ann Wilson chick and is sort of there to present her with the whole roller derby witch legend, but his character is completely unnecessary and fucks up the tone and flow of the film.
- Also fucking up the flow of the film is are endless montages set to raucous industrial music. The intro of this hour and ten-minute movie is seven minutes of rock music and the girls just going in circles around the roller derby track! The music montages keep coming and disrupting the pacing.
- There are too many girl fights and no wardrobe malfunctions. With all these buxom bimbos clawing at each other, there’s no nudity in the film!
- The fantastical elements overshadow the slasher feel of the film. The killer eventually breathes fire, there are hokey dream segments, and there’s a final supernatural battle in the arena. Expect bad laser/fire/lighting/evil energy effects.
I was totally into the roller derby comedy slasher aspects of Murderdrome. It just veers way off and becomes a supernatural music video farce way too often.