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Midnight Reckoning

An inert thriller that yaks its way toward a senseless if faith-affirming conclusion.

With:
With: Bruce Michael Hall, Persia White, Tony Longo, Grant Bowler, Al Harrington, Sera Bastian, Burke Roberts, Steve Heller, Frank Novak.

“Midnight Reckoning” was reportedly shot in 2004, started appearing at film festivals in 2007 as “The Fall of Night,” and in the last few weeks has finally played a handful of theatrical runs around the country. Such prolonged struggles for exposure often raise a red flag, here flapping over an inert thriller that yaks its way toward a senseless if faith-affirming conclusion. Unfortunately for debuting feature writer-director Derrick Warfel, good intentions alone are no longer enough to gain traction in the Christian niche market. Best prospects lie in DVD.

Wannabe rock star Joe (Bruce Michael Hall) has fled Los Angeles with stolen drugs he hopes to sell in Las Vegas before a pursuing motorcycle gang can catch up and kill him. When his car conks out, he thumbs a lift from RV-driving “prophet” Atlas (Tony Longo), who seems to be speaking for God when he tells Joe the world is about to end and that it’s time for him to be judged for his misdeeds. Also along for the ride are sexy penitent Dawn (Persia White) and the possibly evil and/or illusory Harry (Grant Bowler). Once they’ve stopped in the desert, Native American mystic Jesse (Al Harrington) appears as well.

The cast of mostly TV-familar thesps is at the mercy of some seriously ponderous material and dreadful dialogue. The worst lines are given to Longo, maintaining poker face and basso profundo tone through a never-ending stream of laughably portentous statements, and White, stuck with one of the worst monologues in recent memory. Required merely to look handsome and incredulous, Hall fares better, though he does have to suffer through some last-resort thrill tactics (“Ow! An invisible something is attacking me!”) long known to no-budget cinema.

Pic’s few actual f/x are rock-bottom, other tech aspects mediocre at best. But “Midnight Reckoning’s” imaginative limits are more problematic than its budgetary ones. This story spins its wheels for well over an hour before Jesus saves — our protagonist’s soul, at least, though viewers’ time, money and hope for a coherent resolution remain in eternal limbo.

Midnight Reckoning

Production: A Winter Star Prods. release of a Winter Star production. Produced, directed, written by Derrick Warfel.

Crew: Camera (color), Michael Millikan; editor, Stephen Erkel; music, James Covell; production designer, Merryann Randall; sound, Antonio Moncada; sound designer, Peggy McAffee Routledge; casting, Neely Gurman. Reviewed on DVD, San Francisco, Oct. 13, 2010. MPAA Rating: PG-13. Running time: 86 MIN.

With: With: Bruce Michael Hall, Persia White, Tony Longo, Grant Bowler, Al Harrington, Sera Bastian, Burke Roberts, Steve Heller, Frank Novak.

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