‘Midnighters’ Review: Julius Ramsay’s Directorial Debut Is A Fun Crime-Thriller

Midnighters isn’t always consistent, but it’s undeniably fun

When approaching a self-proclaimed Hitchcockian thriller, I proceed with caution. When you make me expect a Hitchcock-level thriller, you better deliver and many times they often disappoint. It’s a bold move to take for your directorial debut, and while Julius Ramsay’s Midnighters is far from the Hitchcockian masterpiece I was hoping for, it’s still a fun and easily accessible little thriller filled with surprises.

Married couple Lindsay (Alex Essoe) and Jeff (Dylan Tee) don’t have the healthiest relationship. Jeff’s lazy hyper-masculine persona clashes with the successful, strong woman he married. However, a murder will soon test their relationship as they hit and kill a man on their way home from a party.

Julius Ramsay is no stranger to making eventful and thrilling stories. His frequent directing on TV shows such as The Walking Dead has given him plenty of experience with slow burning character studies and spur of the moment action. Thankfully, his prior experience is shown here. Ramsay’s direction is smooth, stylish, and stimulating. He manages to build an atmosphere of uneasiness and unpredictability that’s both thrilling and exciting. Midnighters‘ start promises a twisty psychological thrill ride to come.

For the most part, Midnighters is just that: a small film that starts as a slow-burning character-driven film filled with lies and deceit. It doesn’t take long for our characters to get tangled in a murderous plot and from there on, Ramsay never releases his foot from the pedal. It’s a film very much interested in the future and not too caught up with the past as it’s always transforming itself into something else. And somehow, Midnighters makes it work.

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The darkness of the characters is intriguing even if it feels artificial – source: IFC Midnight

Like any Hitchcockian thrillers, our characters are the main focus of the story. They’re filled with captivating secrets and lies. But there’s an uncertainty to their actions throughout the film that feels quite artificial. Midnighters takes these complex human beings and at times, makes them feel more like primitive animals. As the film draws to a close, the characters have done things that make for a thrilling watch, but end up being alien to the average person.

And while Midnighters may start as a slow-burning character study, it’s always changing. Sometimes it does pay off, but sometimes it feels like watching the season finale of a TV show. Its structure is similar to that of The Walking Dead – starting slow and ending with plenty of action. This makes for an inconsistent ride, surprisingly, it always manages to be fun. The main problem is Ramsay’s overdrive mode and his need to finish with a bang. Most of the time, TV shows end on an intriguing note to get you to watch its next season even if it’s often times forced in. Here, it feels forced in but without the promise of a sequel.

However, the overlying mystery is enough to make you want to continue watching. There’s just too many surprises that get you right back on board just when you thought you had enough and even while Midnighters doesn’t end as strong as its start, it still manages to be a fun sleepover type thriller to watch with your friends. Its blend of action and slow-burning character moments make it easily accessible to everyone. The characters’ perplexing decisions will intrigue you even if it doesn’t necessarily amount to anything special. If you’re looking for thrills and mystery during your next movie night, maybe give Midnighters a chance.

Midnighters will currently in theatres and on VOD and Digital HD on March 2. 

GRADE: B-

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