Richard Donahue and Justin Williams of Mourningside Productions have done a marvelous job of bringing their horrific ideas to mind. They’re frugal gentlemen, too. They work on shoestring budgets and maximize the atmosphere with each outing. After last year’s slasher-but-oh-so-much-more Grayhaven, the next film fell into the the “sky’s the limit” category. What I didn’t expect was to receive a package from my fellow Oriole lovers that included a film NOT written or directed by the duo. Instead, they lent their help to another filmmaker by the name of Daemon McConnaughey who (keeping in the Mourningside tradition of unconventional) took on the not-s0 simple task of revisiting Rod Serling’s The Midnight Sun. Yes, that Rod Serling!
Considered an adaptation or a re-imagining of the original, The Midnight Sun is the story of Norma (played by Grayhaven alumnist, Natasha McConnaughey) and Helen (Elana Williams). The 2 women are coping with the end of the world. For some inexplicable scientific reason, the earth has begun an ascension that’s leading it closer and closer toward the sun. As expected, folks are headed toward cooler climates north of them but will it be enough? As the cities empty out and hope is waning, the 2 women struggle to maintain sanity. Time is slipping away from them as the temperature increases. Who goes first? The earth or its people?
The Twilight Zone’s Rod Serling was a magical storyteller. Taking on his work isn’t to be done in an aloof manner, and knowing Mourningside’s history I’m certain that they had no intention of doing so. Shot in an homage-styled black & white, it works in the way you expect The Twilight Zone to work, but with that Mourningside touch. McConnaughey uses the same methods that Donahue and Williams have: Very few set pieces, small cast, rely on natural abilities/fear to drive the story. Fortunately, the story already had its built-in fear. So, McConnaughey used a modern (yet, somehow still timeless) setting to chronicle 2 people’s struggle with the end of humanity. The story certainly cashes in on the claustrophobic concept initially created by Serling. The walls are closing in on Norma and Helen, both figuratively and literally. Knowing as we do that it’s a matter of time before it’s all gone, watching their struggle feels almost merciless on the part of the audience. When hitched onto the unmistakable Twilight Zone-esque ending, this loving tribute is definitely going to win over the lover of a good ol’ fashion horror story.
The Midnight Sun is not intended to be an official release from the Baltimore-based company. It was shot in honor of Serling’s work as a non-profit film. If you’re interested in finding out more (and I recommend you do! It’s an excellent watch!), visit www.mourningsideproductions.net for the details on The Midnight Sun and their other releases.