I heard Midnight In A Perfect World reviews that made my expectations soar
Warning: this article contains spoilers
I first heard of Midnight In A Perfect World when Wonder had the opportunity to feature Jasmine Curtis-Smith in our November 2019 cover. That era feels like a lifetime ago, and I have heard many more things about the film since—especially that it’s now streaming worldwide exclusively on UPSTREAM via GMovies.
I knew from the onset it was a horror film, one that played on friendships and a literal darkness that would take people in the hours following midnight. I knew that it starred Glaiza de Castro, Dino Pastrano and Anthony Falcon alongside Jasmine. And I knew it was directed by Dodo Dayao. Filipino horror films are not exactly my cup of tea, so I didn’t have much hope despite the names attached to Midnight.
But in recent weeks, my curiosity got the best of me. I had the privilege of attending the film’s press con, and was struck by the words of the cast and the media that had already seen it when it had its premiere at QCinema. They said it was painful, strange and endless; someone praised how the film was shot in pitch-black darkness. My interest grew.
Now that I’m past the Midnight In A Perfect World reviews and have seen it myself, let’s just say not everything went as expected.
The cast of the film had amazing individual performances, and I can only imagine how grueling it was. The premise of Midnight In A Perfect World isn’t easy to internalize, with each character battling a monster that wasn’t truly there. All that said, the physical aspect of the movie was likely to be as draining as it was emotional. Jasmine, Glaiza, Anthony and Dino were running around everywhere, throwing their bodies to the walls, looking around into nothingness. It’s movies like this that truly leave me in awe of actors and their craft.
And then there is the way the film was shot. The play on wallpaper, the fly-on-the-wall angles, the sometimes dizzying camera play—everything worked in favor of Midnight In A Perfect World. From the technical aspects of shooting alone, you already felt as if you were there. You’re left anxious and frustrated at some of the character’s choices. You’re curious about what’s beyond the locked door, the safety house and why exactly people are being taken. You're left to wonder, how are they chosen?
Another thing worth noting in the film is the writing. If you listen to the lines and the speeches, matched perfectly with performance…well, let’s just say I understood when a fellow press con-goer said it sounded like listening to a novel.
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All that said, there are some issues I had with the film.
Its introduction tries to give you a glimpse into the lives and backstories of the characters, but I cannot say it was enough to get audiences invested in them individually. As a barkada, sure, because you saw how much they wanted to save each other and how far they’ll go to try and ensure they survive the night in one piece, but the individual engagement was weak in comparison. I watched and cheered them on as a group, but was left feeling lost for all of them.
Finally, I cannot end this article without touching on the themes, of the comparisons to Martial Law and the war against drugs. The similarities are evident: people disappearing, an entire nation scared to walk the streets at night—whether innocent or not. If you know before watching the film, then you know what to watch out for. Artistry is embedded into the metaphors; but I can’t imagine the general public understanding it if they had heard nothing else. And if that was the point of the film, then I must say that sometimes what we need is a slap in the face, not a whispered reminder.
Art Matthew Ian Fetalver