Caroline Williams gives the best performance of her career in Ten Minutes to Midnight. This film has a wonderful underlying story that has you come in for the horror but stay for the on point and insightful commentary.
A bite from a rabid bat turns a punk rock disc-jockey Amy Marlowe (Caroline Williams), into a blood-sucking vampire in a small-town radio station as she prepares to perform her last broadcast.
Ten Minutes to Midnight deceives you at first glance. If you looked at the poster, the trailer and even that synopsis, you would be under the pretence that this is a classic schlocky vampire horror movie set in a radio station. Yet as soon as the film starts, we are given a wonderfully surreal look at a woman who has to not only come to terms with losing her job to a younger, smarter woman. Yet, also accept the mistakes she made to get said job and how she never pushed on from it. There is so much not only under the surface but also presented before us that it becomes fascinatingly engaging.
Caroline Williams is compelling in what could be the best performance of her career. She is a force of nature throughout as veteran DJ Amy Marlowe, getting to show a fuller range than previously seen. Her performance in certain moments feels wholly real as she releases such anger that you immediately buy into her. Her verbal tirade on her is a piece of perfection that anyone who watches or listens to live broadcasts would dream of hearing. As an audience, you could only imagine the spiral that a presenter you have known for long is having. It is big, and brass by Williams as you winch as she lets it all out. Yet it is the quieter tender moments where she shines the brightest, giving us a tender and truly tragic character who you constantly feel for.
Ten Minutes to Midnight is here for a good time, not a long time, with its very brisk pace and short runtime. As we go from one situation to the next. We, like Amy, are left in confusion as to what is going on. Keeping it short and giving us barely a second and giving us almost a real-time nightmare, we are never bored or frustrated. However, viewers are left frustrated by this nature as it is not often that these types of films are made. This is probably why it stands out as much as it does.
As each situation gets more and more abstract, the film could veer down the road towards being ludicrous; however, by keeping the central theme present, Erik and Carson Bloomquist can keep us invested. We are witnessing someone practically go through the stages of grief but in a unique way. The film also makes sure that it doesn’t have to over-rely on the film’s horror aspects. Bloomquist makes sure to hammer home the social aspects. As Amy moves through her nightmare night, she has a few choices to make, and in one very well done scene with a female “caller”, our hearts break for her as she relates her thoughts as she understands what Amy has gone through and the hurt and devastation of the betrayal from someone she most likely deemed a friend.
Ten Minutes to Midnight falters on occasion by not always keeping things together as that early barrage is tough to repeat and beat. However, I think that is the point due to the stages of grief we are witnessing. As Amy’s initial anger subsides, we see more emotions rise. Yet, that original blurting is so memorable that you would almost want to see Williams give that to everyone the entire time. Equally, the horror we have here worked and somehow also feels as if it is too much. There is a feeling that the whole movie could go without showing too much blood. Yet when we do get those horror moments, they are fun and vivid, so it works.
We are left with a film that has something to say, and while it does seem like a film you will either love or hate, it should be remembered for allowing audiences to see precisely the skillset Caroline Williams has as an actor. She is terrific and worth the price of purchase or rental alone.
Ten Minutes to Midnight is out now.
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