Movie Review: Midnight in the Switchgrass

I don’t know who is more at fault here -- screenwriter Alan Horsnail or director Randall Emmett, working on his first feature. And this movie was so bad that, while watching it, my mind was drifting off to other things about it. For example, Bruce Willis in the first few scenes with Megan Fox, then told her character he doesn’t want to work with her anymore because she’s dangerous, and...he bounces. Of course, he’ll show up for one scene at the end, but I wondered -- how much did Willis get paid to film 11 minutes of the movie, which was probably shot in one day? (a director once told me a story about Willis being paid over a million dollars to do a few scenes in a movie with the guarantee that they could shoot it all in one day; great work if ya can get it).

Speaking of Fox, she almost gets raped by a low-level pimp/drug dealer, played by her real life boyfriend -- rapper Machine Gun Kelly. My thought during that scene this how she met him? And what about that guy is even attractive to her (or any woman)?

The movie starts with two FBI agents, on their own time, hunting down a serial rapist/killer. When one of them bails on these stakeouts (the aforementioned Willis), she ends up teaming with a state cop (Emile Hirsch). When we were introduced to his character earlier, he goes up to the mother of a hooker who was found dead on the side of the road. She asks that he find the killer, and return to tell her. Any guesses on if that will happen?

There were so many things to hate about this movie, but most appalling are the decisions characters make in this. For example, a woman who knows somebody is a rapist, and is drinking near him. She starts to get dizzy and things get blurry. Now, at this point, how do you not grab the bartender or say to him, “My drink has been drugged. This guy did it, and he’s a rapist. Please don’t leave me. Call the cops.”

Instead, she tries to walk away, and gather her wits about her, while he graciously agrees to help her. Of course, as they walk by the bouncer, this sleazeball will claim to be her brother and, “She just had too much to drink.”

He’s played by Lukas Haas. Boy does this have a decent cast for a film that, with any other no-name actors, would be a direct to video project nobody ever watches. 

There were only a few scenes that seemed like real people doing things they might do -- when we see the killer with his daughter, putting on the charm and trying to be a good dad. Also, there’s a scene when the FBI shows up and it is that cliche scene where one agency says they’re taking over an investigation and blah blah blah. Instead, this local officer barks at the guys, telling them if they’re taking over the investigation, their sergeant would have called his, and until that happens, they can scram (it was worded better than the way I just butchered it, but it’s one of the rare times this type of scene was done in a believable fashion).

The actors are perfectly cast. Haas looks like a serial killer. Hirsche looks like he’s worn down from all the crime and misery he’s seen in this job, and realizing what it’s doing to his home life. His eyes convey sadness perfectly. Fox looks like a woman who wants to get revenge on the rapists of the world. And Willis looks like a guy who...well, sips his coffee at the diner and wonders how soon he can go and cash that million dollar check. 

In movies like this, I always look at little things the criminals do wrong. Maybe because as a kid, I remember reading a story about how Al Capone was finally imprisoned, not for murder or racketeering, but for tax evasion. That fascinated me. So I watch these movies that have some mastermind criminal, that has gotten away with kidnapping and murdering runaways and prostitutes, and find out he’s a trucker. Okay. I’m fine with that. Yet when another truck driver approaches a drunk girl stumbling away at a party, and this other trucker (the serial killer) hits him over the head with a beer bottle, and politely offers to give the young lady a ride home, I think to myself -- if this guy is so good at not getting caught, why hit somebody with a bottle, where witnesses could see, or the truck driver could get up and kick your ass, or at the very least, write your license plate number down?

Just as my wife and I made fun of how poorly that Morgan Freeman movie a few months ago (Vanquish) did flashbacks of scenes we just saw five minutes prior, this film did the same. 

They also had prostitutes in this that looked like supermodels. That might work if it was a high-end escort service, but these women were working truck stops and cheap motels. And I don’t know why one just invited the serial killer into her room as he just happened to be walking by (I understand she didn’t know he was a killer), but...she invited him in hoping to hook a john. Okay. She asks him if he’s a cop, which I think gets the point across about what she does for a living or why she invited him in. He then starts kissing and touching her, and she, him. Now, I’ve never been to a prostitute but I was that how this goes down (no pun intended)? I assumed a price would be discussed first.

There was a scene where the cops were undercover in a bar, and she had an earpiece in. They’d communicate, and he was watching the crowd from a different area to case the joint. Yet a heavy metal band was playing onstage. Now, I’ve been to concerts at clubs where I couldn’t even hear my friend standing next to me, yelling directly into my ear. Get out of here with a small earpiece and you hearing what the dude is telling you.

On the subject of music, the score was annoying in so many ways. Hearing those sullen violins overwhelm the dialogue...just awful. I will give the filmmakers credit for playing Dire Straits “Brothers in Arms” to bookend the film.

This is formulaic and idiotic, and one of the worst movies of the year. 

0 stars (it’s currently getting 15% on Rotten Tomatoes, a website that’s often unreliable, but seems to have gotten it right this time).

Fun Fact: Sylvester Stallone’s daughter plays one of the prostitutes.

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