1 out of 5
Directed by: Carter Smith
Well, dang, I’d been wanting to see Carter Smith take on another movie after The Ruins, and Into the Dark seemed like a good avenue as any to offer up some bit of horror nastiness. While Midnight Kiss boasts something that none of the other ItD entries to date really can – that I actually felt like the characters were people, and I’d be interested to watch more of a movie about them – the flick surrounding those people is thin as heck, barely able to limp into its I Know What You Did Last Summer-ish riff, and just ekeing out the requisite 90 minute runtime to execute the killer reveal.
For most of its runtime, Midnight Kiss concerns a group of friends reconvening for their yearly New Years bash, and casually allowing us into the relationships that have frayed over the years. It’s not especially heavy-handed, though: the friendships come across as worn in and real; the avoidance of conversations isn’t the stuff of forced scripting so we don’t offer up info too early, but rather seems true of the kind of understanding that occurs when everyone pretty much knows what’s up. The game of a Midnight Kiss is forced into the proceedings, right before the New Years party kicks off: you must kiss a stranger; it must be consensual; it’s a little too clear that this will be, in some way, tied into whatever killings are to come. And then our masked badguy (introduced in an opening scene, lest we forget the intentions of bloodspray) makes his way around our group, narrowing down our guesses as to the identity until a pretty lameo you-probably-guessed-it “twist.”
Several Into the Darks have been guilty of just gluing horror onto a movie the director really wanted to make; that’s not so much the case with Midnight Kiss – Smith shoots and stages with purpose, and I’d say the overall themes of the flick connect well enough to the killer, but he pushes the murders so far along into the movie that it becomes a pointless waste by the time we get there: the previously shown deaths are excessive, and the ones to come are expected. The whole movie becomes moot.