Midnight Special Review
[We like to disclose ahead of time when a film doesn't fall into the horror category. Midnight Special is definitely not a horror film and barely would qualify as a thriller, but does have a heavy scifi/indie vibe, which Efrit and I like to catch from time to time.]
Midnight Special follows a man and his son as they flee the government and a cult that is obsessed with his son's special powers. With help from his wife and an old friend, Roy must find a way to get his son to a designated location by a certain time, disclosed to him by his son's powers.
Much of the premise feels like Take Shelter compacted into a little boy. Shannon's character is similar in delivery and the unrelenting foreboding mood carries a familiar weight. In that sense, Midnight Special feels less original despite its unusual concept. In some respects, it feels like an adult version of E.T.. In fact, it's basically E.T...
The cast is surprisingly star-studded for the relatively low-budget nature of the production. Michael Shannon, Kirsten Dunst, Joel Edgerton, Sam Sheperd, Adam Driver...it's practically the who's-who of pseudo-indie scifi/thriller/drama films. And the cast shines in the production, giving great performances all-around.
The film certainly has a story to tell, but at times it does lull through the vagueness of the boy's powers. The much more interesting portion of the film is the focus on the three "factions" centered around the boy; the government, the cult, and the family. The family is selflessly trying to help their son reach his endgame by any means necessary. The government, of course, would like to exploit the boy's gifts. And the cult, in a similar fashion to the government, become fixated on the boy's powers as some means of salvation. It's an interesting dynamic that is well-balanced.
When all is said and done, Midnight Special holds your interest almost in spite of itself. It certainly has some strong moments, but doesn't pack a particular punch at any given moment. The perspective of the situation never leaves the eyes of the witnesses experiencing the events, so you're left with more questions than Shannon's vague discussions entail. Basically, you feel even further out of the loop than any of the three groups involved. All of them have more information on the situation than you ever hear about. And while that may be interesting for progressing a story, when the climax comes around, you feel disappointingly lost. It's not enough to deny the film a solid 'B', but its lackluster composition of knowledge to the audience left me wishing for more by the end, but not wanting more story to give it.
Horror Qualifier: 3/10
Horror Quality: 2/10
Film Quality: 6/10