In the 34 years since Robert Englund and Lin Shaye appeared in “A Nightmare on Elm Street,” both actors have brought their distinctive personalities to so many horror films of varied quality that their presence in a picture hardly guarantees greatness.
In “The Midnight Man,” Shaye plays dotty shut-in Anna, while Englund’s her doctor and oldest chum. Gabrielle Haugh plays Anna’s granddaughter Alex, who invites her platonic bud Miles (Grayson Gabriel) to hang out at her grandma’s house, where she’s found elaborate instructions for a game that’s more like a summoning spell.
Before long, Alex and Miles are plagued by the titular demon, who confronts them with their worst fears and forces them to comply with his impossibly complex rules, lest they get their faces fatally pulverized.
Adapted by writer-director Travis Z (Zariwny) from Rob Kennedy’s Irish horror feature, “The Midnight Man” would feel like a hodgepodge of other fright flicks even without England and Shaye’s familiar faces.
Classics like “Candyman” pack in more shocks than “The Midnight Man,” which takes nearly half its running time to get to the scary stuff — and then keeps the lighting so dim that it’s hard to make out which shadowy figure’s the monster.
It’s always easy to spot Shaye and Englund, though: As always, they’re the ones doing much better work than the material demands.
‘The Midnight Man’
Running time: 1 hour, 33 minutes
Playing: Arena Cinelounge Sunset, Hollywood