There were quite a few surprising developments here, which I always find refreshing as a reviewer. It isn’t necessarily original material, as many hardcore horror goons will name the sources of all of the derivatives here. However, the narrative is impressive in the arrangement of these well-worn bones as well as several flourishes that O’Hara whips out at the end. There is one magic point where the visuals genuinely get stuck in the 60s in the grooviest way possible. While the director mostly behaves throughout, when she misbehaves is when she shows how much she has up her sleeve.
The acting is outstanding throughout Mid-Century, taking advantage of the well-seasoned drama that makes up the muscle of the movie. Gilligan steers her lead with a strength that lifts her above the fray. I am already a fan of West as I thought his performance as Darby Crash was one for the ages. He takes a difficult role and makes it both his own and, against all odds, likable. The tone of the film fits his talents well.
“…a worthy example of the power of quiet horror…”
Dern is horrifying, and he still has his mojo working after all these years. Lang, who I remember in Last Exit to Brooklyn but has become more famous off Avatar and Don’t Breathe, nails the evil Banner with a gleeful menace. Some guys just do evil so well. Hay emerges as the “spiritual” center. She shines like a comet in the sky. Hopefully, this becomes a springboard for her into more work as she can handle it.
Overall, Mid-Century is a worthy example of the power of quiet horror as the terror slowly creeps in. The excellent performances will keep you riveted while the story has enough twists to spin your head around some, Linda Blair style.
"…has enough twists to spin your head around some, Linda Blair style."