Directed by Jeff Nichols
Written by Jeff Nichols
As ever, the rock I live under casts quite the shadow as yet another name I should know of quietly releases their new film. One day I’ll make time to watch Mud, but it is 2016 and happily Jeff Nichol’s new film made it to Australian screens not long after the US and UK. This is one of those films you go dark into, so I’ll refrain from writing much. The film starts in a hotel room, where Roy and his old friend Lucas are hiding with Roy’s son, Alton, who is hiding under a sheet reading comics with a torch.
It is night and they have all the windows covered, with a piece of duct tape over the peep-hole. Roy and Lucas decide it is time to move, as the television news is announcing Roy as a kidnapper. They load up their weapons as the news continues about Roy, who seems to have kidnapped his own son. But why? What is happening? It is an instantly intriguing introduction and the ambiguity of it makes it all the more captivating.
Roy is willing to do anything for his son, and the trio hit the road as soon as they see the news article reporting Alton as kidnapped. As the film progresses, layers are gradually peeled away, slowly revealing what it is that makes Alton special. Roy and Lucas have it tough as they are pursued by a doomsday cult and the US government, all while dealing with Alton’s different needs and behaviour.
A road film as well as a sci-fi mystery, Midnight Special is very unique. Its best feature is how human it feels, as traditional family dynamics are tested in an interesting way. The bonds formed are tight, though the characters are a little two dimensional. This was perhaps intentional, as it helps Alton to stand out from the rest of the cast. While I thoroughly enjoyed the first two acts, after everything that had happened, I found the culmination of it all to be very underwhelming. I must commend this film though for its creativity, especially within the sci-fi genre. It is worth watching. Unfortunately though it falls short of its lofty goals. A memorable but flawed film.
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