Exploring Entertainment in Florida's 850 & Beyond
What do wrestlers, a whole bunch of body parts, and William Baldwin have in common? A little movie called Minutes to Midnight.
It combines the concepts behind movies like The Strangers and 80s slashers, making it a fun little horror movie. In true slasher fashion, it centers around a group of kids who want to celebrate New Year’s Eve together at a ski lodge. A ski lodge that is supposed to be empty. Dun-dun-DUN.
Of course, not everything’s as it seems, and you’re kind of wondering and trying to piece it together. This one’s a little different because it is more plot-heavy than the typical indie-horror fare. It also takes a little bit to really lift off. In the beginning, you’re introduced to all of these characters and some of these backstories, and you’re trying to kind of figure out what’s going on – it doesn’t really hit the meat of it till closer to the second act. Which of course, as kids are, we’re led to the typical 80s style flasher romp of sex, alcohol, and a few gruesome deaths.
One thing that makes Minutes to Midnight exceptionally fun is the bevy of guest stars, from William Baldwin, who I previously mentioned, Richard Grieco, Bill Moseley, and even Christopher Judge, who doesn’t often pop up in horror movies. Pretty much every face in this movie you’re going to feel like you’ve seen before at some point or another. The most interesting to me was Dominique Swain, who I’m not sure I’ve seen anything lately, but goodness knows I’ve probably seen Face/Off one too many times and definitely remember her from that. So it’s a fun opportunity to see all of these unusual characters and all of these really cool character actors in one spot.
It does pull a little bit too much from the current Friday the 13th plotline – the strange guy trying to find his brother and his fiance, who wandered off into these potentially haunted, nefarious woods. The fact it’s John Hennigan (Johnny Nitro/John Morrison from various wrestling platforms) means that he’s able to add some muscle on the side of the kids, in the sense that when it turns into a little bit more of an action movie and a little bit more of a, “Can they fight the murderers off?” it feels more believable.
You do sort of wonder if they threw too much plot at the movie to the point that a little is lost in the shuffle. There are some details that you notice, especially on re-viewing, where it feels like they had these other concepts that are kind of hidden just below the surface that makes the movie a little on the busy side. The upside is, I would rather a movie that is busy as opposed to a movie that is so forgettable and so lacking of plot that you kind of go, “Well, I don’t know why anybody did what they just did.”
I will also say that the kids don’t quite fall into the normal tropes for their ‘why’. They are a little more stuck than indie movies often take the time to explain. There is, of course, an impending storm, they are of course in the middle of nowhere. They avoid falling into the, “Why aren’t you going to your car? Why aren’t you calling for help?” The movie makes a little more logical sense than many of its genre brethren. It is always a nice thing when you don’t feel like you are literally yelling at the TV screen not to go into that bedroom or why aren’t you grabbing that knife or all those silly things that we tend to do as horror fans watching someone make every single dumb choice.
Now, Minutes to Midnight will not reinvent the genre, but if you’re a horror fan, you’re always going to get a kick out of Bill Moseley playing anything that resembles a crazy person, just because he does it so well and it’s always so fun to see and always so fun to connect him to those other past characters that we so love. So when you add in that and watching some of the scenes of some of these guest actors playing off each other, it just makes it a little more interesting than a completely fresh-faced cast because you care about them – whether it’s them as people or as actors or due to the characters they’ve played in the past. So it does kind of make you go, “Oh, look, it’s so-and-so. Oh, look. Well, he’s kind of looking creepy. What’s going on there?” And it does keep you tuned in a bit more. So if you are a horror fan and recognize some of the names in the list, or are a Devil’s Rejects fan or a Stargate fan, or heck, even a wrestling fan, you’ll enjoy Minutes to Midnight just because you’ll enjoy the familiar faces doing something together.
For a pretty low budget movie, the special effects are pretty well done, especially some of the reveals that happen in the third act. There’s definitely plenty of gore, and a few interesting kills that further connects it to the 80s slasher subgenre of horror movies. It does feel a little bit like they smush several different plot lines together and came up with this movie, and I’m not sure if that has something to do with it sitting on the production table for a while or just a writer who likes rewrites, but overall you do reach a solid conclusion in the movie. That can be my biggest gripe, when movies have those plot holes you’re kind of left holding the proverbial bag going, “Well, wait, what happened? What happened to those characters, and what’s going on?” Minutes to Midnight does all wrap-up nicely.
So we’re not talking about The Exorcist here, but if you’re looking for something that is a little more old-school and a little more of a throwback when it comes to horror movies, you’ll probably get a kick out of it. Minutes to Midnight is currently available on Video on Demand and will be released on DVD in early September 2018. The tagline is, “What happens when a night of fun turns into a night of horror? Seven friends and a mysterious backpacker converge at a desolate ski lodge in the mountains. As the clock begins to count down to New Year, they discover that the end of the old year may be the end of all their years as they systematically hunted down by ruthless masked men with a deadly agenda.”
So even the tagline, you can kind of hear there’s a whole heck of a lot going on in this little movie, but it definitely makes for good popcorn viewing. If you’re a horror fan that gets a kick out of guest stars making Minutes to Midnight worth a viewing or two.