Midnighters is a movie that takes great pleasure in painting its characters into a corner, then watching as they struggle to find their way out of the narrative rat maze. Writer/director duo Julius and Alston Ramsay have stitched together a ‘what would you do?’ scenario that’s difficult to look away from. And although some clever twists really drive the action, it’s hard not to armchair quarterback come character decisions, especially in the early going.
Jeff (Dylan McTee) and Lindsey (Alex Essoe) are driving home after a New Year’s Eve party when Jeff decides to ‘spice things up’ and go for the ol’ passenger thigh grab. But before you can say ‘road head’, Jeff plows over a pedestrian standing in the middle of the secluded forest road. The pedestrian is grievously injured, but with no cell phone reception, Jeff decides the best course of action is to jam the bloodied and broken man into the back seat and drive into town. But when the man unexpectedly perishes during the drive, a mildly inebriated Jeff calls a brilliantly stupid audible: take the man home, stash him in the garage for two hours until Jeff can sober up, then drive the man to the hospital and report the accident to authorities.
Before Jeff’s top-notch plan can fully come together, the couple discovers that their front license plate is missing, presumably left at the scene of the accident. Uh oh. As Jeff returns to the scene of the crime to retrieve the plate, Lindsey’s sister Hannah (Perla Haney-Jardine) shows up at the house, goes snooping in the garage, and discovers what the audience has suspected this whole time: the ped isn’t dead. And oh yeah, he’s packing a piece. To say things escalate from there would be a bit of an understatement.
Handing out plot twists like Halloween candy, the Ramsay Brothers have crafted a low-budget crime picture that aims to satisfy. With its spare but effective lighting and palpable neo-noir vibe, it’s a lovingly made B-movie effort that merely hints at its minor horror elements in the final reel. Not quite the amalgam of genres it strives to be, Midnighters is a diversion best reserved for a rainy Saturday afternoon.