Happily, the wonderfully balanced direction is accompanied by a script that goes for broke and succeeds. As a metaphor for how the workforce views older women as disposable and not worth their time, in spite, or perhaps, because of the ridiculously excessive nature of the direction and plot twists, the movie works. The viewer sympathizes with Amy, as she was so callously forced to retire. They on her side as she attempts to suss out reality from fantasy, hoping against hope nobody is actually harmed. This is because the screenplay is filled with intelligent observations, while still allowing for all the goofier lines and scenarios from the copious bloodshed.
Of course, it helps that the screenplay is being brought to life by fantastic actors. Caroline Williams has been acting for decades, with plenty of genre titles to her name. That experience is put to full use, as one minute she needs to make Amy a scared victim, then immediately turn her into a soft-spoken, happy disc jockey when taking calls. It’s an effective and engaging performance that will leave audiences wondering why she’s never become a household name.
“…has more to say than its intentionally over-the-top presentation suggests…”
Weppler is a lot of fun as the well-meaning Aaron. He perfectly plays the scene where he admits to Amy how long he’s known tonight to be it for her, bringing the right mix of earnest and repentant. As the sleazy manager, Youmans balances the comedy and drama nicely, making his character more than just a money-hungry guy. Sienna is played by Nicole Kang, who really nails the subtle snark and naivete of her character, though giving some specifics might spoil some of the wilder aspects of this horror-comedy.
However, the experience of watching Ten Minutes To Midnight is bittersweet. As detailed above, the movie is essentially perfect, though some dodgy CGI at points, is a minor problem. Clearly, it’s not that the film has all these great elements brought down by some frustrating, impossible to overlook flaw. No, the heartache comes because it co-stars actor Nicholas Tucci… in his final performance, as he sadly passed away in March of 2020, at the young age of 38. While I have not seen everything he’s done, of what I have, this is the best he’s been. He gets to play against type in a wild performance and is clearly having a blast. His lithe voice as the security guard, along with the strange mannerisms he adopts is both unsettling and hilarious. A far cry from the intense, scary brooding he did in Long Lost. Knowing that the world lost such a nice and talented man too soon, hurts. But, we can remember him through this film, and the rest of his body of work.
Ten Minutes To Midnight has more to say than its intentionally over-the-top presentation suggests, but that is the beauty of the movie. Between all the laughs and scares is a dramatic portrait of a woman callously tossed aside for something new, despite all she gave to her career. This mindful story, along with the wonderfully goofy script, over-the-top directing, and pitch-perfect acting, all meld for one manic ride worth getting on. It also serves as a heartfelt send-off to an actor who left us too soon. If you love Dead Alive or Evil Dead, you’ll adore Ten Minutes To Midnight.
"…a heartfelt send-off to an actor who left us too soon."