With their new film Midnighters, the Ramsay Brothers have concocted a gripping thriller filled with an abundance of twists. Among several solid performances, Alex Essoe stands out, continuing to fulfil the promise of her brilliant star-making turn in the excellent horror outing Starry Eyes (2014).
Essoe stars as Lindsey, a success-driven woman married to Jeff (Dylan McTee), who has been unemployed for a long stretch. On New Year’s Eve after attending a party, the couple discuss emotional and financial strains between each other until their car hits a man on a lonely stretch of road. Unable to call the police, they put the unresponsive man in their car and take him home, starting off a series of unfortunate decisions on their parts. Lindsey’s sister Hannah (Perla Haney-Jardine) returns from a different celebration and shoots the injured — and now angry and aggressive — man with his own gun. When Jeff finds a piece of paper in the man’s pocket with the couple’s address, things go from horrible to worse, and then, of course, the police show up.
From here, relationships and alliances twist and turn, especially when a large sum of money becomes involved. Detective Smith (Ward Horton), who gives off weird vibes from his first moments on screen, complicates matters even further.
Director Julius Ramsay and his brother Alston, who wrote the screenplay, have crafted a taut, chilling slice of cinema in which it is difficult to predict what is coming next. Some may argue that there are perhaps one or two twists too many, but I felt that these surprising elements worked well overall. Midnighters shifts tones at times, including some forays that border on torture-porn horror, but Julius keeps the suspense building quite well, so that these shifts feel smooth in their transitions.
The Ramsay Brothers give Essoe plenty to work with for the character of Lindsey, and she responds with a wonderful performance that shows off a wide range of emotions. Lindsey’s status levels rise and fall on this twisted journey, and Essoe nails every nuance throughout. The rest of the cast members acquit themselves well, too, with Horton also splendidly inhabiting his character’s elaborate range of pretences, Haney-Jardine nailing the duplicitous nature of her addict character, and McTee nicely showing the shifting sides of his jealous husband part.
Like similar thrillers and chillers, Midnighters requires a certain amount of willingness on the part of viewers to accept its tide of events, but the Ramsay Brothers’ debut feature offers a fun, wild ride and shows them as a filmmaking team on which to keep an eye for the future, as well.
Words: Joseph Perry