The supernatural horror film, The Midnight Man is directed by the relatively unknown filmmaker Travis Zariwny, who also wrote the screenplay for the film. The story follows a young girl named Alex Luster, played by comparative newcomer Gabrielle Haugh, and her best friend Miles (Grayson Gabriel). The girls stumble upon a game that summons a demon-like creature called the Midnight Man; a scary individual who manifests their worst fears.
Zariwny adapted this film based on his own original screenplay, and when we say original, we’re being very generous here. There’s pretty much nothing original about the plot of the film: it is yet another horror house film that includes an attractive young cast, stuck in an old creaky house that’s possessed by a devilish creature.
In addition, The Midnight Man commits the worst crime a horror film could possibly commit; it barely makes the titular creature even remotely intimidating. One could attribute the film’s low budget to the atrocity of the production design, but then again, there are horror films such as last year’s Get Out that had a similarly subpar funding, and yet was effectively chilling and creepy.
That’s not to say that The Midnight Man doesn’t have a few things going for it. Despite the film, for the most part, being one cliché after another, Zarwiny subverts some illogical horror tropes. For example, the long standing question in any horror house film is why the main protagonists don’t just leave the haunted residence. Well in the case of this film, anyone who leaves literally bursts into bits and pieces.
The main effectiveness of the film, lies in the costume and make up used to create the manifestations of the main characters worst fears. However, it’s undercut by the strange creative choice of presenting each of their fears in the most hilarious ways. For example, Alex’s worst fear is a comical killer bunny-like creature running around with a knife.
The Midnight Man could be credited for its ambition, but simultaneously dismissed for its inability to live up to this very ambition. Indeed, by undercutting the effectiveness of the most intense moments in the film with strange creative decisions, the film actually made us laugh. The true chilling feeling the film leaves behind, however, is its set up for a future sequel; now that is truly horrifying!