Grace from Film Overload takes a look at our final feature screening of the 2020 festival Ten Minutes to Midnight, available to watch at this years festival on 1 November 2020 at 21.45pm.
Blood, thrills and carnage wrapped up in a kaleidoscopic fever dream
Erik Bloomquist and his brother Carson Bloomquist bring us Ten Minutes to Midnight, a hardcore bloody film that delves deep into the rattling psychosis of a feisty late night radio host as she battles through her tumultuous last shift before being savagely replaced by an entitled young women straight out of college.
This is not a film for the faint-hearted, with the shock value tuned to the highest frequency. Blood, thrills and carnage make Ten Minutes to Midnight unmissable, but what Bloomquist undoubtedly achieves is a gripping adventure into an unravelling breakdown surrounding the loss of personal identity and not knowing your own existence without the foundations that bind it together.
Unfortunately films that combine both electrifying visuals and emotive narratives typically fails, with one aspect always outshining the other; however, our protagonist Amy Marlowe played by the talented Caroline Williams delivers a heartfelt performance as an experienced radio DJ being harshly forced out of the career that defined her. Williams portrayal of Amy is irrefutably enthralling as she not only hits every mark, but also brings such a convincing representation of a person on the edge.
It’s no surprise that Williams’ acting raises the stakes as she has an iconic scream queen reputation from playing the fan favourite ‘Stretch’ from the infamous 1986 film The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (Tobe Hooper). Despite the notable filmic accolade that Williams claims, she does not craft her performance around her previous roles, with the character of Amy presenting a fresh take on a delusional individual. Horror fans may also notice that the eccentric security guard Ernie is played by the late Nicholas Tucci who famously played Felix in the outstanding home invasion film You’re Next (Adam Wingard, 2011).
The at times over the top aesthetics such as the sporadic shift in discourse is purposefully adapted to cloud the viewers sense of judgement throughout. Each act of the film serves to amplify the building atmospheric tension, with an utter sense of dread being conjured in each scene. The first portion of the film plays out as a catalyst for the madness we are set to witness, with Amy being bitten by a rabid bat which sets the pieces in place for a crazy night which can only end in madness.
As the film progresses, we see Amy recklessly ruin what’s left of her career. To further the ensuing chaos is the complete kaleidoscope fever-dream that the film becomes. Just like Amy we do not trust what is fiction and what is the truth, everything is sporadic and disjointed, with grotesquely violent visuals flooding the screen in the best way possible.
To complement the intentional dismissiveness of reality is the outstanding special effects that startle the audience. Graphic burns and peeling skin are only some of the viscerally rich imagery that certainly magnifies the horror. But what really serves to dramatize the film’s message even more is the narrative compositional flow that directly pushes the limits on the necrotizing reality that can be quite contentious throughout.
Underneath the impressive visuals are an obvious penchant Bloomquist has for the genre. One of the aspects that make any horror film stand out is the setting, for Ten Minutes to Midnight a radio station is where all chaos ensues. Bloomquist utilises some of the best genre tropes such as after-hour timeframes and dark hallways to alert the viewer to the claustrophobic environment.
Different meanings can be easily reached as Amy’s spiralling is presented in such a dream-like way. However, whatever you take away from the film, one thing is certain, underneath the blood-splatter is a brutally raw film that crawls between subjective and objective to create a memorable experience like no other.
Catch Ten Minutes to Midnight, at this years festival on 1 November 2020 at 21.45pm.