Are you one of those people who likes certainty in life….or do you thrive on being surprised?
If you find that elusive, magical holiday nirvana one year, do you return again and again….or do you constantly look for somewhere new, and hopefully even better?
It was time for another Screen Unseen at the Odeon tonight. They gave the usual cryptic clues on Facebook, but what really gave it away was an email from them yesterday saying: we can’t wait to welcome you at ODEON Guildford tomorrow for MIDNIGHT SPECIAL!
So not a great surprise when the credits rolled and Midnight Special was announced by the British Board of Censors. Note to the marketing guys at the Odeon……get your Screen Unseen email distribution sorted!
I’m not normally a science fiction fan, and for the first hour or so the film plays out as a conventional thriller and then as a road movie, a father abducting his son from a weird cult at a remote Texan ranch.
But gradually the other-worldly pieces fall into place: the 8 year-old boy Alton (Jaeden Lieberher) has mysterious powers. His adoptive father Calvin Meyer (Sam Shephard) is the persuasive leader of the cult, and they believe Alton is their prophet. The FBI – and other US security forces – become involved when some of Alton’s messages replicate confidential state information.
The plot descends further into sci-fi realms as Alton’s real father Roy (Michael Shannon) reunites him with his mother Sarah (played by an unglamorous Kirsten Dunst), and spooky things start happening to the moody landscape of Texas, Louisiana and Alabama.
The dramatic dénouement is reminiscent of Close Encounters, ET and War of the Worlds.
It didn’t float my movie boat, but the cinematography alone was worth the (cheap) ticket price. The writer and director Jeff Nichols elicits good performances from the boy and from Adam Driver, as enlightened Fed agent Paul Sevier, in particular, but overall it wasn’t an out-of-this-world movie experience for me.
Does that mean I won’t risk another Screen Unseen? Of course not. I’ll be there. As long as they don’t spoil the surprise again….