Midnight Clear



Main Cast: Kurt Kubicek, Jessica Morris

Director: Joe Russo

Writer John Jesensky and director Joe Russo really know how to bury the lede!

In their 2017 short MIDNIGHT CLEAR, it’s Christmas Eve and David (Kurt Kubicek, Jamie Kennedy: Stoopid Smart) has woken his kids Gracie (Caige Coulter, GOODNIGHT GRACIE) and Spencer (Kue Lawrence, Lucifer) at midnight to open their presents.  Christmas has come early for the family, which also includes mother Julie (Jessica Morris, One Life to Live).

David is trying to make Christmas perfect, putting on a false cheer and trying to force the event to be joyous.  But Julie’s not feeling it and when David sends her off to get the camcorder (“It’s tradition,” Gracie says, about videotaping the opening of the presents), she goes for the gun, but David says he changed the code to the safe.

“You know,” he says, stroking her hair, “I’m not even mad about Brad Winnerman anymore.  Whatever you two had going on.  It’ll be quick for Brad, too.”

The tension in this scene—the tension throughout the entire short—is thick.

Julie’s mascara is running.  She’s fidgety, nervous, scared.  David, however, is determined to make this Christmas perfect.  After all, it’s their last one as a family.

And it’s not until, literally, the last MINUTE of the film that Jesensky and Russo reveal the ace they had hidden up their sleeve.

I enjoyed MIDNIGHT CLEAR a lot.  However, this viewing was helped by the fact I’ve seen it before as part of the series Beyond the Dark, which I watched on Shudder.  So I already knew the ending going in this time.  I can’t remember my initial impression, when I didn’t know how it ended.  But knowing it this time, I was able to watch for clues and signs as to what was coming, and aside from a few lines of dialogue here and there, Jesensky and Russo really played that one as close to the vest as possible.

Kurt Kubicek was excellent as David, the stern father just trying to make everything perfect under what had to be incredibly stressful circumstances.  He doesn’t have a ton of acting credits, but he did really solid work here.  Jessica Morris however has credits all the way back to 1992 and is probably best known for her 199 episodes on One Life to Live as Jennifer Rappaport.  Her acting was solid as well, maybe even moreso because she had so few lines and so much emotion to convey nonverbally.  This was really good work all around here.

MIDNIGHT CLEAR is only a little over seven minutes long, so can be watched in a flash, and I recommend it.  It’s got true horror elements, nothing is done just for shock value and there isn’t a jump scare to be found.  The horror here comes from the situation, the unhinged and barely keeping it together performances by the adults, and that WTF twist at the end.  Good stuff. 

You can watch MIDNIGHT CLEAR for free on Alter’s YouTube channel.

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