A previous press release from Uncork’d Entertainment describes Minutes to Midnight as being “in the tradition of The Strangers.” I have to respectfully disagree. I didn’t see a lot of that content here, but I did see a wildly gratifying, gory as all hell slasher flick that’s going to be a must have for genre fans in 2018. Minutes to Midnight is written and directed by Christopher Douglas-Olen Ray with Victoria Dadi, with cinema buffs instantly recognizing Olen Ray for his work on Mega Shark vs. Crocosaurus, 2-Headed Shark Attack and last year’s Circus Kane. Shot under DeInstitutionalized and produced by Olen Ray, Gerald Webb, Paul Sinor, Colleen Sinor and Christopher Don, Minutes to Midnight follows seven friends and a random backpacker who take over a deserted ski lodge to celebrate the coming of the new year. Unfortunately, uninvited guests crash the party and lay siege to everyone inside the lodge. A New Year’s Eve adventure turns into a New Year’s Eve nightmare in Minutes to Midnight, starring William Baldwin (Fair Game), Richard Grieco (“21 Jump Street”), Bill Moseley (Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2), Christopher Judge, Viva Bianca, Dominique Swain, John Hennigan, Bryce Draper, Sara Fletcher, Jena Sims and Jared Cohn.
The level of talent in Minutes to Midnight is out of this world; so much crazy good acting that I wish I could list ever addition to the cast. The production staff worked effortlessly for a flawless production, and I also wish I could list more people outside of cinematographer Laura Beth Love and editors Brian Brinkman and Bobby Richardson. I mean, this is how you put together a feature film. It’s no wonder Uncork’d Entertainment picked up Minutes to Midnight for distribution, starting with a VOD release on July 3rd, considering the company is the leading retailer for grade A horror films. Wanting to give everyone proper credit isn’t my biggest problem with my review. No, that lies with struggling not to call Minutes to Minute old-school every other sentence. The film’s opening death scene (which is always super important) incorporates a legend about murders on the property. Ignoring the arrival of the group of friends and their character development through the forest and in the ski lodge, the film showcases its villains in a very old-school way; while building them from Friday the 13th to Halloween to Texas Chainsaw Massacre to Hills Have Eyes in behavior. I don’t know if this was the intention of the script or just my interpretation of the material, but Minutes to Minute contains tons of homages and the atmospheric quality of iconic 1970’s and 1980’s horror films.
A collaboration between Forevermaur Films and Possum on the Half Shell LLC, Minutes to Midnight is all you can ask for from a gritty, gory horror flick. The three villains are absolutely deranged and blood thirsty, often using weapons made from the bones of their previous victims. The characters exist only as canon fodder to these beasts, and while they were enjoyable people, it was more entertaining seeing them getting butchered than if they were thriving. In that token, Minutes to Midnight has an above average body count that’s guaranteed to keep the gore hounds at bay. At least they were all pretty? There’s an added crime-drama narrative that isn’t overbearing and allows the mayhem to steadily grow, resulting in more star-studded appearances and a big finish ending. There’s even the ambiguous, mandatory sex scene. But that’s not all. Minutes to Midnight really has a lot more to offer than a fun, brutal story. It truly was filmed and pieced together well. The set design was almost Victorian, and the framing and lighting in certain scenes made for some cool visuals. Top notch camera work all around. One of the more entertaining slasher films of this year, Minutes to Midnight is a bloody and bizarre hike into absolute madness. Not as predictable as other entries in its category, and containing remnants of its slasher film descendants, this one deserves a spot on your home media shelves. Final Score: 8 out of 10.