Midnight in the Switchgrass
By Jeffrey Anderson,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Serial killer targets women in generic, violent thriller.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
In a generic way, the movie is about solving problems and making good decisions. Empathy is sometimes shown. But much of the movie is about violence, particularly against women.
Positive Role Models
Byron Crawford is shown to be a good person, going out of his way to visit the mother of a murder victim, racing against the clock to try to save the lives of other women. He tries to be a good father and husband but doesn't often succeed; work takes precedence.
Violence & Scariness
Dead bodies. Serial killer targets women; women murdered. Woman strangled to death. Women locked up, kept prisoner. Killer roughly handles and tortures women. Women drugged, injected. Man violently grabs teen girl. Character stabbed with screwdriver. Character hits another over the head with a wrench. Man punches woman. Woman beats up man. Guns held to heads. Violent threats. Violent dialogue, descriptions of gory crimes/suicides.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
An adult dances with a teen, kissing her and grabbing her bottom. Some female characters are referred to as "prostitutes." Strong references to sex workers, sex-trafficking, etc. Man sniffs women's underwear.
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Strong, frequent language includes "f--k," "motherf----r," "s--t," "bulls--t," "a--hole," "bitch," "son of a bitch," "ass," "goddamn," "pr--k," "damn," and "hell," plus exclamatory use of "Christ."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Teen appears high or drunk (she's spaced out and walks like a zombie). Teen smoking. Two people share a glass of whiskey. Dialogue about a character with an alcohol dependency ("he started drinking in the morning"), as well as a college student drinking too much. Characters drink shots and beers in bar. Character drinks a beer at home. Cigarette smoking.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Midnight in the Switchgrass is a thriller about a Florida law enforcement officer (Emile Hirsch) and two FBI agents (Bruce Willis, Megan Fox) who cross paths while chasing a serial killer. Strong violence against women makes it best for ages 17 and up. Violence is extremely strong and often disturbing; much of it is directed against women. Women are treated roughly, held prisoner, tortured, and murdered. Characters are threatened with guns, hit with blunt objects, and stabbed. A woman beats up a man but also takes a hard punch. The killer dances with a teen girl, kisses her, and grabs her bottom; he also sniffs women's underwear. Language is very strong and frequent, with uses of "f--k," "motherf----r," "s--t," and more. Teens appear drunk or stoned and smoke cigarettes. Other characters also smoke cigarettes and drink socially, in bars, or at home. Dialogue describes gory crimes, suicides, sex work, sex trafficking, alcohol dependency, and more.
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Midnight in the Switchgrass
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What's the Story?
In MIDNIGHT IN THE SWITCHGRASS, a young woman's body is found under a bridge. Florida law enforcement officer Byron Crawford (Emile Hirsch) investigates and determines that the crime is likely part of a string of serial killings. Meanwhile, FBI agents Karl Helter (Bruce Willis) and Rebecca Lombardo (Megan Fox) are undercover trying to bust a sex-trafficking ring, with Rebecca acting as the bait. Before long, all three of the main characters realize that they're looking for the same suspect. They set up a trap to catch the killer (Lukas Haas), but everything goes wrong, and Rebecca winds up his prisoner. It's up to Byron to discover the killer's identity and rescue the captives before it's too late.
Is It Any Good?
Slightly more ambitious than anything Willis has attempted lately, this thriller is still pretty generic, taking the most predictable shortcuts and offering few surprises and little to care about. In spite of its cool title, Midnight in the Switchgrass does just about everything by the creaky old book, digging deep into the catalog of serial killer movies from the 1990s, complete with little regard for female characters. Haas is predictably cast as the creepy villain, and -- aside from a few minutes when it appears that he's helping a drunk/high teen girl -- the movie does nothing to hide his identity from the viewer.
Meanwhile, Willis' scenes appear to have been patched together from a series of bad takes; they're riddled with pitiful continuity and mismatched sound. Fox doesn't fare much better. Her big fight scene is so poorly edited that it looks laughably fake. In fact, much of the editing in general is frequently disorienting, and it's very easy to get confused, since certain details seem to have been accidentally overlooked. Only Hirsch (despite an ill-advised mustache) brings some humanity to his character, going out of his way to visit the mother of one victim and trying to be a good dad and husband. Unfortunately, his work isn't enough to save Midnight in the Switchgrass from going under the lawnmower.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the depiction of violence in Midnight in the Switchgrass. How did it make you feel? Was it exciting? Shocking? What did the movie show or not show to achieve this effect? Why is that important?
How much of the violence is directed at women? How does that change the nature and impact of the movie?
How are alcohol and smoking depicted? Are they glamorized? Are there realistic consequences? Why does that matter?
Why do you think movies about serial killers are popular? What's the appeal?
Do you consider Byron Crawford a role model? In what ways does he show empathy? What are his shortcomings?
- In theaters: July 23, 2021
- On DVD or streaming: July 27, 2021
- Cast: Emile Hirsch, Megan Fox, Bruce Willis
- Director: Randall Emmett
- Inclusion Information: Bisexual actors
- Studio: Lionsgate
- Genre: Thriller
- Run time: 98 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: violence, and language throughout
- Last updated: February 28, 2023
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