Watching Midnight in the Switchgrass, I was repeatedly struck with two rather simple questions: why, and how, is this film a thing? This pitiful and formulaic and derivative murder-mystery has no justifiable reason to exist. There is nothing here even remotely interesting or fresh, as genuinely talented performers put in basically zero effort and sleepwalk through the tedious 90minutes of bland, repetitive nothingness. Why, and how, did Emile Hirsch, Megan Fox and Bruce Willis sign up to it? Who funded it? Who is it for? Just…why?
With absolutely nothing distinctive happening or any sort of atmosphere or tension to speak of, Midnight in the Switchgrass is just dull. Loosely based on the true story of one of Texas’ most notorious serial killers (but inexplicably translocated to Florida), the film sees FBI Agent Helter (Willis) and his partner Lombardi (Fox) teaming up with Florida cop Crawford (Hirsch) to try and bust a brutal murderer before the body count rises further. But when Lombardi is abducted by the target, Crawford must piece together the clues and put an end to the bloodshed.
Nothing in Midnight in the Switchgrass works. The cast evidently checked out before the cameras even started rolling, director Randall Emmett – who started his Hollywood career as Mark Wahlberg’s PA – makes it excruciatingly obvious that this is his directorial debut, and the film ultimately feels disrespectful to victims of the notorious ‘Truck Stop Killer’ on whom the film is loosely based. Ultimately, this isn’t even a film that could be enjoyed as a ‘so-bad-it’s-good’ experience. The ghastly quality isn’t in the least bit humorous, because it is all just so tragic. Bruce Willis’ performance – surprisingly brief though it is, considering the marketing and billing – is especially uncomfortable, as he seems half-asleep and totally devoid of any emotion.
The only saving grace is perhaps Lukas Haas, who puts in a serviceable performance as the creepy killer, while Megan Fox does the best she can with Alan Horsnail’s dire screenplay that has her dropping f-bombs every other word in an attempt to make her sound tough. If nothing else, that becomes laughable. Or, if we’re speaking in Fox’s character’s style, if f***ing nothing f***ing else, that f***ing becomes f***ing laughable, you f**k.
But on the whole, Midnight in the Switchgrass is just uncomfortable and awkward. None of the thrills land, the story is dull, and the performances are – on the whole – cringe-inducingly hopeless. It’s an embarrassing and tedious slog that becomes more of an endurance test than anything else. Midnight in the Switchgrass is a very strong contender for the worst film of the year.
Lionsgate UK presents MIDNIGHT IN THE SWITCHGRASS on Digital Download 13 August and DVD 16 August