Sometimes, films are unjustly judged. Other times, popular opinion needs to be challenged. Either way, this content will likely be unpopular.

The last theatrical film of Bruce Willis’s illustrious career is Midnight in the Switchgrass, a crime thriller loosely based on the crimes of the Truck Stop Killer. Though Willis received top billing, he plays barely a supporting role – the film’s real stars are Lukas Haas, Megan Fox, and Emile Hirsch. Haas plays Peter, a serial killer and kidnapper, while Fox, Hirsch, and Willis all play different law enforcement officers with an interest in the case. Midnight in the Switchgrass also notably features Machine Gun Kelly in a small role, highlighting once again that he does actually possess some acting talent.

Midnight in the Switchgrass‘s story is set up as “based on real events”. Though it took some inspiration from case of the Truck Stop Killer, it shares barely a passing resemblance to the real-life crimes, instead simply seizing on the idea of a murderous truck driver. This makes for an uninspired premise, and the discovery that the film story isn’t even remotely true leaves its narrative feeling like little more than a cheap trick.

Though its story is a little insulting in some ways, it is gripping. There’s genuine tension built, and that’s primarily due to a number of sound performances from the film’s cast. Emile Hirsch and Megan Fox both give sympathetic performances, and Haas is so perfectly creepy that he makes a truly excellent villain. However, even decent performances can’t mask a truly bad movie, and unfortunately, that’s what Midnight in the Switchgrass is.

Lukas Haas as Peter and Megan Fox as Rebecca in Midnight in the Switchgrass 2021

A number of bizarre choices combine to make Midnight in the Switchgrass a pretty awful film. The worst offender is the weird and unnecessary use of flashbacks – at one point, the film flashes back to the onscreen events of barely two minutes prior. These flashbacks are achieved with clich├ęd filters and jarring transitions, and they serve no purpose whatsoever (other than further derailing the film’s pacing).

There’s also a lack of any will to properly establish any sort of consequence. Good characters are rewarded, bad characters get what they deserve, with the only exceptions being the victims (most of which are only shown as corpses). If Midnight in the Switchgrass had been based on an actual true story, it would have failed the victims drastically, but instead, it just comes off as vaguely insensitive nonsense. Even so, it delivered a pointlessly happy final scene in which Megan Fox’s apparent death doesn’t stick, and she’s able to live happily ever after having achieved her goal and helped catch the killer.

Basically, Midnight in the Switchgrass is exactly the sort of movie that gives thrillers a bad name. It plays out like an off-market budget paperback, and a number of questionable directing decisions don’t even afford it a layer of Hollywood sheen to make it a less bitter pill. It’s not entirely irredeemable, but it’s far from good. Mostly, it’s just disappointing.

Rating: 30%

Summary: Midnight in the Switchgrass is exactly the sort of narrative safe-bet that no one has ever asked for. It doesn’t challenge the conventions of the genre, it doesn’t provoke any thought, and it’s not even well made.

Highlights: Lukas Haas is almost gleefully creepy, and Machine Gun Kelly’s brief performance is an unexpected stand-out.