New Horror Releases: Minutes Past Midnight (2016) - Reviewed

The horror anthology film has been around for a long time; it started with Dead of Night (1945), running through the various films released by British Hammer Film Productions and Amicus Productions during the 1960’s and 1970’s, followed by a string of U.S. releases during the 1980’s including Creepshow (1982) and Twilight Zone (1983). It has made somewhat of a comeback with the recent popularity of the ABCs of Death and the V/H/S films. The subgenre is an important venue for presenting a series of short films to a much larger audience than they are typically used to. Minutes Past Midnight is an impressive collection of entertaining stories from around the globe, offering up various styles and horror subgenres that range from gothic horror to complete gross out absurdity. There are several unforgettable shorts in this that have the potential to become eventual feature length films, making this must see viewing and a possible modern cult classic.

There are nine stories directed by nine different directors, with each film connected by the fact that terror occurs around the world once the clock strikes midnight. The connection is somewhat weak compared to other anthologies, but it’s not a hindrance in enjoying these short tales.

Never Tear Us Apart was directed by Sid Zanforlin and is about two friends heading into the backwoods in order to meet the one friend’s grandparents for the first time. It is short, fast paced, humorous, and has an extremely incredible gore sequence. It is a superb looking picture, with solid directing, camera placement, and an excellent cast of actors.

Awake was directed by Francisco Sonic Kim and deals with a young couple and their child’s mysterious behavior. Despite being finely crafted and disturbing, it is the weakest of the films mostly because the events that unfold are never clearly explained.

Crazy for You was directed by James Moran and is a quirky romantic tale that could best be described as Wes Anderson’s version of horror or if Amelie were turned into a horror flick. It’s very creative and atmospheric, with a focus on the colors, lighting, clothing, and set designs. Arthur Darvill and Hannah Tointon are both fun as the lead characters.

The Mill at Calder’s Inn was directed by Kevin McTurk and this is a stop-motion animated homage to the classic gothic horror movies from the 1960’s. It has to be considered the crown jewel of these segments and could easily be turned into a feature. Fans of gothic horror should absolutely fall in love with this one, as it features puppets designed to look like Peter Cushing and Barbara Steele. Steele voiced her character, with Jason Flemyng narrating as the main character. It’s a beautiful looking piece with excellent lighting and camera placement.

Roid Rage was directed by Ryan Lightbourn and is an absurd horror comedy about a menacing hemorrhoid. It’s funny, gross, and packed with loads of cheesy action and effects. It could best be described as what Machete would be like if the folks at Troma turned it into a low budget action comedy, with an alien like hemorrhoid coming out of Machete’s ass. While this style of horror is not for everyone, I completely loved it and am craving more Roid Rage.

Feeder was directed by Christian Rivers and is by far the darkest of the segments in this anthology, dealing with an evil entity that provides creative inspiration at an ever increasing cost. This is definitely one of the best shorts in this collection and could easily become a feature length motion picture. It is unsettling and scary and contains a finely crafted story, tight direction and camerawork, and some superb acting from Cohen Holloway.

Timothy is a Spanish short directed by Marc Martinez Jordan and involves a kid and his babysitter and a very unusual visitor. I personally loved this one. It is darkly comical, while also being creepy and violent. It is probably most similar to the story in Twilight Zone: The Movie about the boy who can wish people away and create things with his mind.

Ghost Train was directed by Lee Cronin and involves a trio of kids at an abandoned amusement park and cycles back and forth between them as kids and adults. It is one of the few dark segments in this series and is somewhat reminiscent of a Stephen King story like Stand by Me or It, with a demonic element involved. It has a nice washed out color tone, terrific lighting and shadows, and great camera placement.

Horrific was directed by Robert Boocheck and is a redneck monster horror comedy that is equal parts Critters and Evil Dead. It’s short and chock full of humor, blood, and gore. Mike C. Nelson plays an awesome character that I would love to see more of.

I highly recommend this to fans of horror anthologies and the horror genre as well; this is a strong selection of short films that should please most horror fans.

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