Vampires are undoubtedly my favorite movie monsters. I watched “The Lost Boys” and “From Dusk till Dawn” (which celebrates its 25th anniversary today!) countless times as a teenager. “Let the Right One In” is my second favorite horror film of all-time. My interest is always piqued when another vampire flick comes down the pike. Therefore I leapt at the opportunity to review “Ten Minutes to Midnight” (now available on VOD), the latest entry in the suckhead subgenre.
In a tip of the cap to “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Part 2,” Caroline Williams essentially reprises the role of Stretch (only aged 35 years) as late-night radio host Amy Marlowe. Amy arrives to work at WLST on a stormy night after having been bit in the neck by a bat. Unbeknownst to Amy, this will be her last night at WLST as station manager Robert (William Youmans, he played Bartender in “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” and “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”) plans on replacing her with the younger Sienna (Nicole Kang, a regular on the CW’s “Batwoman”) in exchange for implied sexual favors. Everyone – including Amy’s producer Aaron (Adam Weppler) and the station’s security guard Ernie (the late Nicholas Tucci, best known for “You’re Next”) – knew Amy’s head was on the chopping block, but didn’t have the decency to tell her. As the night continues hostilities rise and a transformation takes place.
“Ten Minutes to Midnight” is yet another modern horror film that embraces the 1980s what with its synth-y score and its stylistic title card. It’s not the best of the bunch by any stretch, but contains several elements worthy of praise. The movie manages to pack interesting commentary concerning time, mortality, sexual harassment, toxic masculinity and severed sisterhood into its scant 73 minute runtime. For a flick with a miniscule budget, the makeup effects are often impressive (Kudos to makeup department head Amanda Pepin!) and there are some cool metal needle drops. The acting can occasionally read as amateurish, but I was impressed by Williams, who I’m reappraising after seeing her in the recent horror doc “In Search of Darkness” (Seriously, this lady gives great talking head.). She runs the whole gamut of emotions.
I almost feel as though “Ten Minutes to Midnight” would’ve been better as a short or lengthened to a longer feature that could further extrapolate on its themes. Writers Erik and Carson Bloomquist make the decision to have all the actors switch roles save for Williams three-quarters of the way through the picture. I can’t entirely say what purpose this served (unlike the aspect ratio changes that convey different times periods), but it’s interesting.
“Ten Minutes to Midnight” isn’t as entertaining as the similarly-titled 1983 Cannon Films joint “10 to Midnight” since Charles Bronson isn’t screaming, “It’s for JACKING OFF!,” at somebody, but it does depict Williams’ Amy eating a used tampon out of a trash receptacle … so there’s that. I don’t regret watching it once, but I’ll likely return to “The Lost Boys,” “From Dusk till Dawn” and “Let the Right One In” to sate my bloodsucker thirst moving forward.