LAFF 2017: Midnighters – Exclusive Interview with Alex Essoe and Julius Ramsay

If you follow true crime, you may be familiar with the shocking story of how hapless Texan Gregory Glen Biggs died. Back in 2001, 25-year-old Chante Jawan Mallard struck 37-year-old Biggs, a homeless man, with her car. The force of the crash lodged Biggs into the windshield, head-first. Mallard then drove home and left the man lodged there, where he died of blood loss after several hours. Needless to say, she was caught and convicted. Director Stuart Gordon later made a movie based on the incident, called Stuck.

That’s not just a one-off, though – Google a few keywords, and you’ll find even more stories centered on the same scenario. Just a couple of months ago Californian Sherri Lynn Wilkins, 55, was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison for hitting and killing 31-year-old Phillip Moreno and driving for over two miles with him trapped in her windshield. (Eventually other drives saw, and called the cops.)

Midnighters, an upcoming thriller directed by Julius Ramsay, and starring Alex Essoe and Dylan McTee as married couple Lindsey and Jeff Pittman, starts off with a similar scenario – but it takes a dark, dangerous turn when it turns out the pedestrian who got ploughed into isn’t killed… and he is very, very angry at the couple who hit him.

When we caught up with director Julius Ramsay, he said that it was fascinating to explore the reasons behind people’s reactions in situations like this. “It’s what people do all the time. I think people don’t necessarily want to deal with the consequences of their actions and don’t want to face the music. they want to put things in the rearview mirror, so to speak.” We wanted to know whether he thought their reaction to the turn of events was realistic, or was it more of a springboard to set the mystery into gear. “With these two characters, it not so much about: is their response realistic? I think it’s more about what their response says about them as characters than as human beings,” he said. “And so their response about the situation they’re put into speaks to who they are and the types of decisions they are going to make.”

Alex Essoe, a darling of the indie horror scene ever since her powerful performance in Starry Eyes, says she loved playing another complex, yet completely different, character. “Lindsey is just fun. Alston [Ramsey, screenwriter] and I had endless conversations about her. Her life is hard, and I think she’s just the type of character that likes it that way. She’s very reserved, very secretive. She doesn’t express her feelings, but she’s not good at setting boundaries with people. So she kind of walks this fine line between where she’s come from and who she is.”

Ramsey adds, “And further, it goes into the dynamics between Jeff and Lindsey as a husband and wife. Because, if it was up to Lindsey she would have made a different decision. But because she has this messed up, sort of codependent relationship with Jeff, she winds up going along with his bad logic.”

We asked Alex about how she chooses her roles – because we’re sure she’s offered quite a lot of them – and why she wanted this one in particular. “It was a combination of two things: I loved the character. Lindsey is such a Rubik’s Cube. Secondly, it was the opportunity to work with Julius Ramsay. He has directed some of my favorite ‘Walking Dead’ episodes. It was such a no-brainer!”

Midnighters will be screening at the 2017 Los Angeles Film Festival Monday, June 19th at 9:30 pm. Stay tuned for our in-depth interviews with Essoe and the Ramsay brothers closer to Midnighters’ wide-release date.

The 2017 Los Angeles Film Festival runs June 14th-22nd. Ticket information can be found right here.

Midnighters stars Alex Essoe (Starry Eyes), Perla Haney Jardine (Dark Water), Dylan McTee, Ward Horton (Annabelle), and Joseph Lee Anderson. It was written by Alston Ramsay.

New Year’s Eve, a married couple hits a stranger walking on a dark forest road. In a panic, they take the body home so as to sober up before turning themselves in. But they soon discover that the man wasn’t dead after all – that he was in fact armed and already on his way to their house. As the family is thrust into a deepening mystery, they discover that no one is who they seem – including each other.


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Staci Layne Wilson

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