In the Queers in Horror series, I will highlight genre films that feature prominent queer characters or themes. Some of these films will be wildly popular while others may not have as big of a spotlight on them as other films. So brace yourself… for the Queers in Horror.
Film: Midnight Kiss
Release Year: 2019
Who’s In It: Scott Evans, Augustus Prew, Ayden Mayeri, Lukas Gage, and Adam Faison
What’s It About: The season 2 premiere of Hulu’s INTO THE DARK series, MIDNIGHT KISS follows a group of longtime gay best friends and their straight female bestie as they head to a beautiful desert home in Palm Springs to celebrate New Year’s Eve. One of their annual traditions is to play a game called Midnight Kiss, a sexy but ultimately dangerous challenge to find that special someone to help you ring in the New Year. As friendships have grown strained with secrets, jealousy and resentment, the group faces another challenge when a sadistic killer wants in on the game. Relationships are put to the test and truths are revealed as the night turns into a fight for survival.
What Makes This Movie So Gay: Unlike other genre films that get lumped in with queer cinema due to their not so subtle queer coding (THE HITCHER, NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 2, FRIGHT NIGHT to name a few) using otherwise heterosexual characters, MIDNIGHT KISS feature gay characters and boasts a mostly out queer cast. The film’s setting in Palm Springs- a favorite gay destination- mainly for when the characters hit retirement age… or 40. The film never punishes the characters for their sexuality nor is their gayness an issue any of them are struggling with. They’re living mostly mundane lives until they encounter a masked killer while on vacation.
Is This Movie any Good? …sure…. While watching MIDNIGHT KISS, I couldn’t help but compare it to an earlier queer horror fave, HELLBENT. Both films follow fairly similar concepts; a gaggle of WeHo gays celebrate a particularly sluttly holiday at a particularly slutty location and get stalked by a masked killer. Both also feature a high-voltage club scene while our lead characters are being stalked by the killer. I enjoyed MIDNIGHT KISS. I really did. However I couldn’t help not notice these comparisons which became a distraction. Perhaps watching MIDNIGHT KISS as a HELLBENT Reboot or in-name only sequel helped me digest this feature length meal I’ve had before. Director Carter Jenkins previous work, BUG CRUSH and THE RUINS, were tense films full of dread, darkness and “what the fuck was that” surprises. MIDNIGHT KISS is bright, sexy, yet predictable fare in comparison. That doesn’t mean the movie is void of fun. The killer was mean and quick. The cast all turned in strong performances, in particular Scott Evans douchey turn as Joel and likeable hero Cameron played by Augustus Prew. MIDNIGHT KISS isn’t the strongest of the INTO THE DARK series but it certainly isn’t the worst. It’s just fine enough to watch with your friends, place a high-stakes bet on who can guess the killer first and just acknowledge that we finally have the HELLBENT reboot we’ve all been clamoring for years.
INTO THE DARK PRESENTS…MIDNIGHT KISS is currently streaming on Hulu.
**1/2 out of 4