I love horror anthologies, so when I had the opportunity to watch Dead By Midnight (11pm Central), I was thrilled. And I have to say, I was thoroughly impressed. It’s a wildly entertaining collection of cautionary tales that brilliantly executes the creative potential of the anthology format.
Dead By Midnight (11pm Central) is a collection of 6 stories – five separate short segments with one comprehensive plot tying them together. The description is as follows:
It’s Halloween at WKIZ when the malicious Mistress of Midnight arrives to host her annual horror movie marathon ‘Dead by Midnight’. When the WKIZ staff begins disappearing only to turn up in the increasingly darker films, it’s up to line producer Candice Spelling to stop the Mistress of Midnight before her final and most diabolical film goes to air.
And check out this awesome poster design!
Each of the anthology chapters have a great premise and a solid execution. There’s honestly not a weak entry among them.
The anthology’s main storyline (known as Dead Air, directed by Torey Haas) shows the characters gradually shifting over as “actors” in the movie marathon entries, allowing the film’s cast to showcase their talent with double duty roles. This is a great creative choice that ties everything together very well, giving Dead By Midnight an overarching plot that clearly builds a full story.
It’s also just a very clever way to present an anthology that ties back to the roots of the sub-genre; shows and films like Tales From the Crypt, Thriller, Trilogy of Terror, Waxworks, Hammer House of Horror and The Vampira Show.
I was so happy to see Hannah Fierman (SiREN, V/H/S) as line producer Candice Spelling – she’s such a great talent and she can communicate so much with her physicality and facial expressions (take into consideration that her role in SiREN is mainly non-speaking, and you’ll know what I mean).
Each segment is introduced by the Mistress of Midnight (Erin Brown, Masters of Horror: Sick Girl), the saucy hostess of the Dead By Midnight TV special. She’s basically a hybrid of Elvira and Evelyn (Barbara Crampton’s VHS game guide character from Beyond the Gates) and her coy quips mask her dark intentions.
The first “official” short entry, titled Jersey Devil (directed by Tony Reames), features a punchy script that I greatly enjoyed (written by the segment’s lead actress, Davi Crimmins). The comedic timing of this entry is fantastic and I definitely appreciated the Evil Dead homage of the camera-rushing-at-the-cabin visual gag. Delightful!
The next segment, Creepy Dolls (directed by Eric Davis) stood out for me because of Emma Green’s character, Toni. She’s wise to the ways of a spooky story and shows that it really is easy to incorporate diversity of sexual orientation into the genre.
Director Jay Holloway’s segment, Lost Laundry, uses a combination of stop-motion animation and practical gore effects to turn his story into a fun creature feature. Anyone who has ever had an uncomfortable roommate situation will definitely identify with this short.
Day Three – written and directed by Anissa Matlock – is beautifully subdued in comparison to the previous segments. It’s full of emotion and communicates a deep trauma with characters that are struggling to cope. The climax is stunning with phenomenal practical effects and design. It really won me over.
The last segment, Blind Side (directed by Torey Haas and written by Melissa Oulton) is the nightmare of anyone who relies on prescription glasses. The short’s main character, Rebecca (Jenni McCarthy), finds herself blurrily struggling through a horrific situation and still follows all the logical steps – for once – which deserves applause.
Overall, the film had such a strong group of stories that it would be difficult to pick a favorite. Dead By Midnight (11pm Central) is a killer indie anthology that fully embraces the format and does a damn good job.
Dead By Midnight (11pm Central) will screen as part of the Atlanta Film Festival on April 14th (9:30pm at the Plaza Theatre). You can check out the trailer below.
Craving more horror anthologies? Check out the teaser trailer for Lilith!