Seriously, who doesn’t love to go a little crazy on New Year’s Eve? Most people just don’t take it quite as far as the people in DeInstitutionalized’s Minutes to Midnight, coming to video-on-demand on July 3, 2018. If you’re in the mood for a little 80’s style slasher fun, this is your film!
It’s New Year’s Eve and a group of college-aged adults have decided it’d be a great idea to throw a little unapproved soirée at their boss’s ski lodge, which is currently closed. The sheriff finds them up there and tells them to go home because there’s a storm brewing but do they listen? Of course not! Why would they? Besides, a family of crazy killers is gearing up for a celebration of their own and it just wouldn’t be a party if they left.
To be perfectly honest, that’s pretty much the plot in a nutshell. Yes, you’ve probably seen this same scenario played out in other films but that really doesn’t detract from the film. It’s still a hell of a lot of fun. And you get to see some killer handicrafts (pardon the pun), like a morning star made out of a human spine with a spiked skull on a chain, axes made from femurs and shoulder blades, and some other pretty cool weaponry.
It surprised me to see some pretty big names in Minutes to Midnight. William Baldwin plays Mr. Walter, the unsettling lodge owner. Richard Grieco plays opposite him as Sheriff Wyatt. There’s an enmity of sorts between the two, something of an unspoken dislike covered over by cordiality. This is really revealed until the end of the film. Until then, you know something’s not entirely kosher in this little ski town but you can’t really put your finger on what. Both actors did a great job of portraying this unease.
The college kids were the usual type you find in these kinds of movies. Every stereotype was there, including the way-too-drunk guy and the bimbo. Really, so stereotyped were they that none of these characters were really all that memorable. That’s not saying that the crew didn’t do a great job acting the parts—they did. The characters themselves were just far too clichéd.
The same can be said for the family of crazies. They were definitely cool-looking but definitely another version of stereotyped misfit killers.
The soundtrack was great. The score was nicely varied—lively and upbeat during happy moments and low, ominous, and brooding when it needed to be—and never overpowered the dialogue.
For the most part, the cinematography in Minutes to Midnight was beautifully executed. The scenes were very well thought out and framed. I did feel like the crew’s use of the fog machine was a little overdone, though. I understand using it out in the forest to make the outdoor night scenes a little creepier but why pump fog into the halls of the lodge during the indoor power outage scenes? It’s just not a logical choice. Then again, if this the director’s intent was to pay a little bit of homage to 80s slasher flicks, then I suppose I can overlook it.
The other thing that bugged me from a cinematography standpoint is the season of the location during filming. According to the story line, this is set in a closed ski lodge in the mountains and its New Year’s Eve—as in December 31. I’m not exactly sure what state this is supposed to be located in but there is legitimately no snow anywhere. Instead, the grass was green and the trees were leafy, and no one was really dressed for cold weather. Of course, no snow would explain why the ski lodge is closed—I’ve lived more than enough years in New Mexico to know that ski lodges in the mountains don’t always get snow in order to open during the winter—but even the trees lose their leaves during a New Mexican high-desert winter.
I guess what I’m saying is that the environment at the location does not match the setting described in the plot.
Minutes to Midnight: Final Thoughts
Honestly, I really enjoyed Minutes to Midnight. It’s a fun film. I loved the opening credits, which helped to set my expectations for the rest of the film. And I have to say that the ending was not one I immediately saw coming. I’d made some assumptions based on previous films I’ve seen, thinking Minutes to Midnight was going to go in the same direction but it didn’t. I really liked that.