There is something about the notion of games being utilized to draw out the supernatural that is so enticingly exciting. From ouija boards to bloody mary, the anticipation of experiencing the unknown can get a heart rate pumping with fear. Such is the idea for Director A.D. Calvo's The Midnight Game, released on DVD August 12, 2014 by Anchor Bay Entertainment and Raven Banner Films. Game revolves around a few friends who gather for an evening of fun and end up playing the mythical game at the behest of Shane, a student who has been investigating the phenomenon at the school library and has seen bizarre footage he wants more answers to.
Once the game is over and done, not too much seems amiss at first but as the morning arrives it becomes increasingly apparent that The Midnight Game has legitimate dangers by not being executed properly and one by one, the friends find out first-hand. Calvo's previous film was House Of Dust, a fairly simple and yet decently effective horror film that would play well during the late hours of the night without any gloss to fall back on. The Midnight Game is more of the same and an improvement; a generic, not overly original and yet pleasing movie experience that reflects how much the film maker loves the genre and how better he is at executing it on screen than others who try to release independent movies of the same nature.
Calvo does this through some good decision making when telling the story. One right move is not providing the big scares or creepy moments the night the game is played. Instead, the dark forces involved make their impact mostly in broad daylight the next morning and then the following evening to close it out when the friends attempt to play the game again and get it right to save their skins. The second right step Calvo takes is not dancing around what creatures or ghosts are at work behind the scenes. Although their appearances are brief, a viewer will have no problem deciphering how menacing they are.
Although the movie certainly has shades of Candyman, Paranormal Activity and Insidious it is executed well enough to be its own movie, and like Dust could be watched easily as part of late-night marathon. On DVD, the movie looks fairly good. While the image quality is obviously a standard 480p, Calvo is very good at providing an old-school 1980`s aesthetic to his movies (dark and grainy but not overcooked) that honour that golden age of the genre. The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is also very effective when certain moments occur, like characters being run down by cars or thrown off balconies. Sadly, the edition is bare bones and devoid of any special features.
The Midnight Game is simple, but good old-fashioned horror movie fun that is better in quality than most horror movies that try too hard to rise above the average and fall flat on their face. A.D. Calvo continues a solid trend of delivering a pleasing horror movie experience that is not flashy on style but instead lets the content, the characters and the aesthetic do the work. DVD enthusiasts could do a lot worse if they didn`t play The Midnight Game.