Director and co-writer Erik Bloomquist’s mind trippy, hard-rocking vampire flick, Ten Minutes to Midnight (2020) had intense color, quirky characters, and scary-good vampire design. Most notable of all, leading lady Caroline Williams (of Texas Chainsaw 2 fame) gave a rousing and satisfyingly furious performance in a scream queen role that tackled the psychological turmoil of the vampire transformation as well as the psychological turmoil of aging out of one’s career.
On the way to work, a late-night radio show host named Amy (Caroline Williams) gets bitten by a rabid bat. Ignoring the suggestion of her coworker to seek medical attention, Amy continues on with her show, but not before being sacked with a shadow intern for the night named Sienna (Nicole Kang). Right before the show begins, Amy finds out that tonight will be her last show as she is being replaced by Sienna, and after freaking out and biting Sienna on the hand, her mental state goes from bad to worse. Trapped inside the station due to a storm, Amy begins seeing hallucination after hallucination, trying to survive through one harrowing night of transformations.
I loved the metal soundtrack kicking in often when some badass violence was about to go down, overall, the movie was reminiscent of a gritty and darkly lit Rob Zombie movie, if he had dabbled in doing a vampire movie. It also reminded me of an 80s horror flick, simplistic in direction and setting, and full of more and more synth music as the action built. There were a couple of exaggerated kind of characters, but for the most part, the actors were pretty believable, if not a bit flat. Caroline Williams as Amy was amazing, screaming her way through her identity revelation and given the opportunity to show off her acting chops with a character who goes through the full spectrum of emotions.
The only downside about Ten Minutes to Midnight is that it made little to no sense, to me anyway. It was full of bizarre dream-like sequences that each had their own meaning as far as bringing Amy one step closer to self-discovery as an out of work vampire. There was nothing jaw-dropping as far as gore and violence in these scenes, but the blood definitely runs thick in Ten Minutes to Midnight in the few instances where a throat is ripped open. The movie used rabies as the disease of choice causing Amy’s vampiric episode, which I felt was unconventional and a fresh way to start a vampire story. There are a few ‘what the f*ck’ moments to keep the excitement going amidst the confusing plot, namely sucking a tampon like a hard candy treat, and the shocking facial morphs as the vampires show their monstrous faces before sinking their teeth in for kills.
About as trippy as anything out of the mind of Terry Gilliam or David Lynch as far as inserting weird occurrences into the film, but thankfully, Ten Minutes to Midnight is somewhat grounded and centered around Caroline Williams’ endearing and vulnerable performance. This indie, reality-bending, retro homage of a film spins its vampire tale from a unique perspective, one of someone turned vampire in the latter years of their life. I had no idea where the movie was taking me, I gave into the storyline and let Caroline lead the way. For a fun, femme fatale vampire flick, catch Erik Bloomquist’s Ten Minutes to Midnight, released VOD October 15, 2020, and digital on January 19, 2021.
6 out of 10