Directed by Sonja O’Hara.
Starring Stephen Lang, Shane West, Bruce Dern, Vanessa Williams, Sarah Hay, Annapurna Sriram, Ellen Toland, Bill Chott, Chelsea Gilligan, Sonja O’Hara, Emmy Perry, Jonathan Park, Sebastian Quinn, Mike Stern, and James Gaudioso.
A husband and wife’s weekend in a mid-century modern vacation rental turns deadly when the husband discovers the owner is a psychopath with a backyard of buried secrets and designs on his wife.
There is a loopy, go-for-broke, playful tale of spiritual possession during the back half of Mid-Century (directed by actor turned filmmaker Sonja O’Hara and written by a supporting performer pulling double duty, Mike Stern) that makes up for dropping the ball on various themes of sexism and gender, but not enough to forgive the routine tedium sucking up the middle stretch. That’s also a shame because the first act does set up what could have been an intriguing horror show about occultist architects, workplace misogyny, and relationship woes that correlate to the ongoing terror.
Tom Levin and Alice Dodgson (played by Shane West and Chelsea Gilligan, respectively) are in a struggling marriage. They have decided to take up residence inside a vacation home to hopefully smooth things over. The couple has different goals; Tom wants to start a family, whereas Alice intends to continue her medical career and a further rise in the ranks, which having a child would cut into. Meanwhile, as an architect, Tom is also fascinated by the history of the home they are staying in, primarily upon realizing it is the actual home of revered architect Frederick Banner (a creepy Stephen Lang popping up in both initial flashbacks to the 1950s and present day).
It also becomes apparent that Frederick was into some evil shenanigans and was associated with e weirdo artist/occultist Emil Larson (Bruce Dern in a glorified cameo). More sinister, there appear to be nefarious plans for Alice. The biggest issue with Mid-Century is its creative decision to sideline Alice into a long night at the hospital. At the same time, Tom encounters common visions of murder victims from the past. There’s also a plot thread implying he has been cheating on Alice that is dropped and goes nowhere. Nevertheless, Tom begins communicating with the ghost of Marie Verdin (Sarah Hay), one of Frederick’s victims that had her entire family slaughtered, uncovering more secrets about Frederick and the midcentury home.
Elsewhere, a killer is on the loose, causing problems for both Tom and Alice, and getting the police involved. The script probably spends more time on the cops than necessary, but Mid-Century is not afraid to get weird and reveal its supernatural card as the body count piles up. Putting it bluntly, the acts ghosts are capable of here are ridiculous in a manner that suggests a far more entertaining movie would be embracing that schlock and silliness. Considering the film does not say much about its targeted topics, crazy possession antics should have been the central aspect. There are also some reliable performances here, but on the whole, Mid-Century is, well, mid.
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