Minutes Past Midnight (2016)
It came from Canada! Minutes Past Midnight, that is — an indie horror anthology fashioned from nine pre-existing shorts, with no effort made toward a wraparound. Produced and presented in part by Rue Morgue magazine, the film is wildly uneven in both tone and satisfaction — as one would expect from a project with so many creative visions at work (including a killer bunny, a ghost train and a bloodthirsty floor that always wants more), yet boasts enough standouts to tip the scales toward “win.”
But you wouldn’t know it from the start, with portraits of families cannibalistic and psychotic doing more to infuriate than entertain. After these initial stumbles, Minutes finds its footing with “Crazy for You,” a rom-com parody of sorts from Severance scribe James Moran. Its lovelorn narrator (Arthur Darvill, TV’s Legends of Tomorrow) sets up the premise thusly: “It’s difficult to find love … when you’re a serial killer,” particularly one whose base impulse is triggered by polka dots. Thus, it is inevitable he falls for a cute, chipper blonde (Hannah Tointon, The Lost Future) whose home is decorated in … oh, c’mon, you knew that was coming.
Hollywood effects wizard Kevin McTurk (Galaxy Quest) delivers a spellbinding animated segment in “The Mill at Calder’s End.” Not only does this stop-motion sensation nail the trappings of the Gothic genre, but taps its undisputed queen for voice work: Black Sunday’s Barbara Steele. Next, Ryan Lightbourn (All the Devils Are Here) goes lower than lowbrow for “Roid Rage,” a satisfyingly sick-minded short about a homicidal hemorrhoid; although not everybody’s cup of crap, “Roid Rage” does in less than 15 minutes what a combined 15 Troma movies cannot.
To jump ahead to the end, ABCs of Death 2 contributor Robert Boocheck channels vintage Sam Raimi to a hilarious and “Horrific” degree. You’ll howl with delight as a Texas redneck (Mike C. Nelson, Dust Up) destroys his trailer-trash home as he does battle with a chupacabra. Giving Minutes Past Midnight its golden hour (give or take 53 minutes), this Boocheck guy needs a feature. —Rod Lott