Movie Review: 'Ten Minutes to Midnight'
Radio set horror movie too inconsistent for good scares.
Ten Minutes to Midnight stars Caroline Williams, known for The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, as radio goddess Amy Marlowe. Amy is the well known for her show called "10 Minutes to Midnight," a late night radio show in Texas that she's hosted for nearly 30 years. Amy is beloved among her audience but changing times are catching up with her behind the scenes.
Amy has arrived on this night, in the midst of a roiling hurricane, for what is to be the last night of her career. It's unclear just how aware that Amy is that this will be her final show. At times it appears that Amy was prepared for her big sign off but when she is joined in her studio by a young woman named Sierra (Nicole Kang), she appears at a loss to understand why she has to tolerate her ostensible replacement.
I have chalked this up as part of the problem Ten Minutes to Midnight has with continuity. I feel that the movie is sloppy and poorly assembled. However, some might argue that there is no objective reality to be adhered to in Ten Minutes to Midnight. The film employs an unreliable narrator telling the story and thus, my straw-man may argue that one should not complain about continuity, the mistakes may be intentional.
Let us put a pin in that discussion for now and return to our plot. So, why is Amy an unreliable narrator? Narrator, in this case, being the person who is the main subject of the story, all things happen from Amy's perspective. As Amy is arriving at work, in mid hurricane, she's bitten on the neck by what must have been a very large bat. Two large puncture wounds are visible on Amy's neck and her co-worker/security guard, Ernie (Nicholas Tucci), immediately assumes rabies. He's a relative WebMD of rabies facts but Amy is determined to go on with the show.
As her overly friendly security guard continues to rattle on throughout the movie about the symptoms of rabies, Amy begins to lose control of reality. Her vision is compromised, she's feverish, delusion and suddenly quick to anger with little or no provocation. Reality is edging away from her as she becomes occasionally incoherent among her co-workers. Does Amy indeed have rabies?
Ten Minutes to Midnight co-writer and director Erik Bloomquist is a competent enough director from a technical standpoint. However, is over-reliance on the unreliable narrator to explain away almost random shifts from reality to fantasy in the story doesn't really work. The random shifts in tone from comic to violent, absurd to gross, never feel justified. At times Bloomquists wants to shock and appall and other times he's making a statement about the seeming disposibility of women of a certain age in certain jobs.
The tonal whiplash from low budget shocker to pot-boiling polemic on sexism and age-ism, to Wiseau'ian levels of randomness never coalesces into a movie that makes any logical sense. Some of the shocks of Ten Minutes to Midnight are impressive but those moments can't compete with the random shifts of reality the director employs. I can sense an intention to make a statement at the heart of Ten Minutes to Midnight but this monster movie cannot bear the weight of actual issues.
In the end, Ten Minutes to Midnight is a mixed bag. It's a horror hodgepodge that might satisfy some of the gorehounds out there, but won't do much for anyone who likes a horror movie with a brain and a better special effects budget. Ten Minutes to Midnight will begin streaming on your chosen streaming rental outlets on Friday, September 18th. Ten Minutes to Midnight is also playing several drive ins across the country, a truly appropriate venue for this kind of low budget, trashy and weird horror nonsense.