Midnight in the Switchgrass, 2021.
Directed by Randall Emmett.
Starring Bruce Willis, Megan Fox, Machine Gun Kelly, Emile Hirsch, Michael Beach, Jackie Cruz, Lukas Haas, Caitlin Carmichael, Sistine Rose Stallone, Welker White, Sergio Rizzuto, Tyler Jon Olson, Olive Elise Abercrombie, and Katalina Viteri.
An FBI agent and Florida State officer team up to investigate a string of unsolved murder cases.
The fact that Midnight in the Switchgrass is an all-around terrible movie comes as no surprise, but there is a sting since for star Megan Fox, it’s coming off a career-best and physically impressive performance in Till Death that suggested she’s more than just a pretty face and should be taken seriously as an actor. All things considered, Megan Fox probably is indeed a better talent than she does get credit for, but there’s a sinking “oh no” feeling early on when first-time director Randall Emmett can’t get believable intimidation or fighting out of her here. So for those of you following along with her career trajectory, hoping things would continue on an upward swing, bottle that conversation.
To be fair, the writing was on the wall inside the press release for Midnight in the Switchgrass, advertising Bruce Willis as Megan Fox’s co-star. Fallen from grace and slumming it up in the dirt with no dignity, Bruce Willis’s career is pretty much on the opposite path in that with each new project he takes, it’s astonishingly embarrassing how little effort he puts into the performance. IMDb facts such as “Bruce Willis shot all of his scenes in one day” are starting to become common knowledge rather than something interesting to tell someone. While he’s not technically billed as the lead here, the script from Alan Horsnail (also making his debut credit as a writer) feels as if it’s twisting itself to accommodate Bruce Willis, who at one point exits the movie in such random fashion (his character doesn’t even get killed off), it’s as if they ran out of shooting time for his most likely one day and had to pivot to a new angle.
Whatever the case may be, Emile Hirsch is here to pick up that slack is a Floridian police officer investigating a series of murders committed against underage girls. The girls also tend to be problem-teenager hitchhikers picked up at truck stops or by a truck driver; hence the moniker of the truck stop serial killer. For anyone interested in true crime, psychology, and things of that nature, there’s nothing to see here either, as even with the killer’s identity made apparent from the beginning, there is absolutely no real character here to speak of. There’s an inner conflict of sorts as the guy does have a family (and his young daughter, which slightly adds another layer of creepiness to the situation), but really, it’s all tacky and ridiculous.
Needless to say, Emile Hirsch is the only redeeming quality here as he plays the officer of the law as someone weary and exhausted from driving out of his way to deliver bad news to estranged relatives that a young runaway girl has become the next victim. He’s also against the modern way of disclosing this information to family members with an impersonal phone call, choosing to perform his duties with care and sensitivity to those he is protecting and wants to serve justice for. There is something to be done with that dynamic, but the script is too busy focusing on kidnappings, harassment, torture, all without any thrills or depth.
As for Bruce Willis and Megan Fox, they play FBI agents working together to get close to the killer (Fox is undercover on an anonymous website flirting with the guy in arranging for a meet-up) and catch him. Naturally, they are also frequently outsmarted and come into contact with other supporting characters, such as a junkie played by Machine Gun Kelly. In the only other interesting scene, his trauma is revealed as if the movie wants to show two different outcomes; you can either make something of the abuse or succumb to it and live a life of further misery. When it comes to the agents themselves, Bruce Willis is on the verge of a divorce and barely registers. Megan Fox at least seems to care about the basis of the plot and wanting to subdue a predator, despite turning in a mostly lousy performance. Don’t watch this at midnight or from the switchgrass. Future directors and actors with resurgent careers should stay as far away as Bruce Willis as possible; he brings nothing valuable to the table anymore, with Midnight in the Switchgrass serving as the latest apt example.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ / Movie: ★
Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Critics Choice Association. He is also the Flickering Myth Reviews Editor. Check here for new reviews, follow my Twitter or Letterboxd, or email me at MetalGearSolid719@gmail.com