“The man was impaled on her windshield, and he became stuck in the glass. [The woman drove home and] went about her life…ignoring his screams.”
Alex Essoe, Perla Haney-Jardine, Dylan McTee, and Ward Horton star in Midnighters, which will have its world premiere at the LA Film Festival in their Nightfall category.
Julius Ramsay directs the film about a couple’s strained marriage that faces the ultimate test after they cover up a terrible crime and find themselves entangled in a Hitchcockian web of deceit and madness on New Year’s Eve – the perfect night to get away with murder.
We spoke with Ramsay who explains his inspirations for the film, which obviously lead directly to “The Master of Suspense”. But it all started with a truly horrific true story.
“My brother Alston Ramsay, who wrote the film, read an article a few years ago about a woman who hit a man with her car,” explains Ramsay. “The man was impaled on her windshield, and he became stuck in the glass. She drove home with him in this position, parked the car in the garage and went about her life in the house ignoring his screams. He eventually died over the course of the next two days. My brother asked himself, ‘What possesses a seemingly normal person to do something so monstrous? Was she inhuman, or did the trauma of the accident cause her to snap in some strange way? What determines our actions, who we are or our circumstances?’ We decided to put a married couple in a similarly extraordinary situation and went from there.”
As explained in the film’s synopsis, Alfred Hitchcock was a huge inspiration for Midnighters. “I think Rear Window was the biggest influence from Hitchcock,” says Ramsay who tells us his favorite Hitchcock films include Psycho, North by Northwest, and The Birds. “The use of minimal locations was a reality for us, and turning that from a liability into an asset was important.
Midnighters takes place on New Year’s Eve because of the emotional load it already brings.
“To me, New Year’s Eve is the most poignant holiday that we celebrate. It’s such an odd juxtaposition of celebration and reflection. It’s different than birthdays since the world collectively goes through the experience together. My brother and I thought that this would be the perfect night to set a thriller film since it’s already so emotionally loaded.”
Emotional or not, there’s plenty of tension and violence to go around. “[There’s] more than ‘Sesame Street’ and less than Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” Ramsay jokes. “At its heart, this is a suspense thriller, and the violence is secondary to the fear that the characters experience.
“I wanted the violence to have a punctuated feel to it,” he continues. “I tried to keep it within the characters’ points of view and gave each sequence a jarring and chaotic tone. The violence of Midnighters is depicted the way it occurs in real life: sudden, bloody, confusing.”
Midnighters premieres tonight at the ongoing Los Angeles Film Festival.