Starring Jared Morgan, Lee Bane, Nathan Head
Directed by Andrew Jones
There’s always been something about the illusion of a circus that manages to creep me out, and not just necessarily when one is being displayed on film, but in real life as well. How are we, the viewing public, to know exactly what’s going on behind the tented atmosphere? Who is responsible for the entertainment of our children, and what is their background? Have they done time? So many questions abound that mask the truth when one of these traveling shows pops up in your town, and such is the case in Andrew Jones’ The Midnight Horror Show, aka Theatre of Fear; getting a look inside this nomadic band of performers might not necessarily be something that will ease your inquisitive minds.
The only problem is (and I usually try to not start off with a negative), it takes SO damn long for this movie to get started that by the time we gained a little traction in the formation of a storyline, the end credits were rolling. The Moreau family stands at the forefront of this placid shocker, and they make their way across the UK delivering tiny bits of fun and merriment to those who gladly fork over a paltry admission price. Now that we’ve gotten the sunny side of our family’s appearance some airtime, let’s look at why they’re really doing what they love.
Doctor Deimos Moreau is the father of this marauding clan, and his motives are as clean-cut as the implements he uses on a nightly basis – he loves to inflict pain and torture upon those who wander past the red & white tarp that separates customer from performer. The remainder of the family includes younger son Trincuolo, who has a penchant for wearing his clown makeup in order to mask a hideous disfigurement; Janus, whose mind has taken a sharp left turn into looneyville and is now holding full-blown conversations at length with his ventriloquist dummy; and rounding out are feuding brother and sister Apollo (Sam Harding) and Venus (Shireen Ashton-Plastic), who still manage to make peace just long enough to help dear old dad with his murderous sprees.
After a young woman (Sarah Louise-Madison) goes missing one night after volunteering to aid in a sideshow magic trick, her overly suspicious boyfriend (Scott Suter) decides to investigate the carnival scene himself for clues as to the whereabouts of his missing love, and not soon thereafter an overly eager hitman (Kevin Horsham) takes it upon himself to crash the Moreaus’ little game of death and start pressing everyone for answers – is The Devil’s Rejects ringing a bell as far as familiarity goes? Anyone? Anyone at all? While the mere thought of a demented clan of sideshow kooks carving up unsuspecting souls comes off as a good-time-watch for the horror masses, it’s the endless rabble of dialogue that will act as the movie’s worst enemy, dragging the entire presentation down to a crawl, coupled with the integration of some wayward plot points that make you feel like your head is stuck in a blender, and we’ve officially got a mess of a production.
Overall, if you dig the whole “nutcases running amok behind the tarps at the circus,” then by all means, please feel free to indulge; however, if you want to bypass dialogue, slow spots, and very little violence, you’ll be watching a 25-minute movie. I’ll give points for atmosphere and a spattering of blood from time to time, but this “midnight horror” that is spoken of better feels like something you’d catch during the afternoon hours – save yourself and grab a 75-minute nap instead.