The Movie Waffler Film Maudit 2.0 2022 Review - MIDNIGHT IN A PERFECT WORLD | The Movie Waffler

Film Maudit 2.0 2022 Review - MIDNIGHT IN A PERFECT WORLD

Midnight in a Perfect World review
A group of young friends are caught in a sinister blackout.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Dodo Dayao

Starring: Jasmine Curtis-Smith,Anthony Falcon, Glaiza de Castro, Dino Pastrano

Midnight in a Perfect World poster

In similar fashion to Brad Anderson's Vanishing on 7th Street, David F Sandberg's Lights Out and the X-Files episode 'Darkness Falls', Filipino filmmaker Dodo Dayao's second feature, Midnight in a Perfect World, is another horror narrative in which darkness itself cloaks some form of threat.

Midnight in a Perfect World review

The movie has a simple, high concept premise. At midnight each night, random sections of Manila fall under darkness. The lights go out, or rather light goes out. Not only do electrical light sources fail, but so too does natural light. As one character horrifyingly observes, even the moon seems to disappear from the heavens above.

Stories abound of people disappearing after being caught in such blackouts. The government has installed a series of "safe houses" around the city in which people can take refuge should they find themselves caught out by the darkness. After a night of taking hallucinogenic drugs, a group of young people avail of one such house, though one of their friends gets lost in the blackness outside.

Midnight in a Perfect World review

While his film boasts a simple genre premise, Dayao seems to have higher, artier aspirations. It takes almost half the movie for the main plotline to kick in, and before that we're left watching its characters have a series of obtuse interactions that don’t seem to add a whole lot to the overall story. Once the blackout begins and Dayao's film enters the horror realm, it becomes a laboured affair. It mostly consists of characters wandering through the darkness with only the lights from their phones to guide their way. This raises the question of how their phone lights are working when the blackout seemingly erases all other light, even that of the moon?

Perhaps on purpose, Dayao confuses things by having his protagonists stoned off their heads. On the one hand it adds considerably to their paranoia and in one effectively trippy sequence the safe house's wallpaper seems to come alive, but it leaves the viewer wondering whether all of this is a drug trip or if our protagonists are really in any danger from some supernatural threat.

Midnight in a Perfect World review

Those of us who don’t reside in the Philippines may well feel like we're missing some cultural context. We might hazard a guess that the blackout may be an allegory for the Duterte regime's heavy-handed war on drugs and quashing of civil liberties, but who knows? Unintentionally, Midnight in a Perfect World does reflect the pandemic era, with groups of people ignoring curfews and government guidance to party in secret lock-ins. You won't need to be from the Philippines for that to strike a resonant chord.

Midnight in a Perfect World
 plays at Film Maudit 2.0 until January 23rd.

2022 movie reviews