Midnight Video Horror Shorts: A showcase
I have always had a special place in my heart for short-form cinema as an intriguing way to get my horror fix. They are bite-sized experiences in black comedy, jump scares, intense violence, creepy and imaginative creatures and both good and evil protagonists, and make for an unforgettable time of thrills and chills.
Midnight Video is one of the best production groups on YouTube right now, making thrilling tales of terror – the work of Zak White and Todd Spence is intelligent, witty, full of surprises and beautiful to behold. Their skilful management of their actors, sets, scenarios, special effects and makeup artistry is always of amazing quality.
They have six films to date (as of April 2020) with ‘3rd Eye Cult Murders: Police Video’ having just landed on their YouTube channel. Each production brings something new to their bag of tricks and always feels fresh:
‘WHERE IS IT’ (2017): A woman returns home to find an object missing with serious consequences. The horror in this short goes from subtle to all-out terrifying!
‘YOUR DATE IS HERE’ (2018): Mother and daughter play a very unusual old board-game. The game itself is a vibrant character of such a clever and striking design, and the credits song is a treat.
‘MIKUS’ (2018): A young man takes a nostalgic trip through his childhood via revisiting a box of old possessions. This was the first film I watched and instantly became a fan. The intimate setting, the perfectly framed shots, and the character of Mikus itself all make for a short, sharp shock!
‘THE CANDLELIGHT WITCH’ (2019): Siblings entertain each other with a scary urban legend during a blackout. The atmosphere, the editing, and the open ending all make this a wild ride.
‘FEAR WISH’ (2020): A man performs a strange ritual for high stakes. Very mature horror content of a heartbreaking nature, making for an interesting departure from their previous films.
‘3rd EYE CULT MURDERS: POLICE VIDEO’ (2020): A detective returns to the scene of a terrible crime. It is such a claustrophobic recreation of small-town America in the 1970s, through the sets and editing, with stunning unexpected chills.
All the shorts have a few aspects in common, despite their thematic differences. The protagonists are likeable and relatable, and so you feel emotionally invested in what happens to them. The actors do an amazing job to sell their stories, especially the child actors in Your Date is Here and The Candlelight Witch. The makeup and special effects, headed by Kate Klein are always on point, bringing to life characters that are very chilling and unforgettable. Finally, the music score and sound effects are extremely evocative and atmospheric, and never take you out of the scenario.
Midnight Video is making fantastic horror content with production values and stories that just get better and better with every new video. They are masters of making jump scares count, creating atmospheres of unease, terror, and tragedy. The stories never overstay their welcome or seek to give everything away. You will not regret checking out their work, I highly encourage you to subscribe to their channel and immerse yourself in some quality horror content.
Elizabeth Wilson Interviews Zak White and Todd Spence of Midnight Video
ELIZABETH: Was there a particular catalyst or story that you wanted to tell that led to the creation of Midnight Video, or was it a spontaneous decision to begin creating horror stories?
ZAK: I’d say it was far from spontaneous. It culminated after a decade of creating together and apart. We had made several projects together, but never a straight horror, even though it was something we were both very passionate about. We decided to give it an honest try and everything seemed to click. There’s no turning back now.
TODD: Yeah, and as we created more, we needed a hub to place it all. Also we didn’t want to title the whole thing as The Todd and Zack show because we may just start doing projects as the producers and leave room to build.
E: How did you come into filmmaking – did you have a background in film or other creative industry?
Z: We both graduated from Webster University in St. Louis with degrees in Film Production. After moving to LA, we worked production jobs for a good ten years while making our own projects on the side.
E: What inspires your work? What are your influences? Has your long-term collaboration changed the way you create work individually and together?
Z: I think the more we work, the more we figure out how to collaborate better. It’s a balance that’s always shifting, like every partnership, it requires work and patience but thankfully it’s very fulfilling work. As far as inspirations and influences, we are both children of the 80’s so the likes of Carpenter, Zemeckis, Dante, etc. have fueled us since we were very young.
T: Also the influence of “is this something we, as horror fans, would want to see” helps push where we’re headed.
E: Were you specifically drawn to short film, or would you ever consider doing a full-length feature? Are there any reasons or constraints that would influence this?
Z: It’s far easier to make a short with $200 and favors from a few friends than it is a feature. We’d love to make something full length one of these days. Hopefully we’ll get the chance.
T: Exactly, money is the biggest constraint and hard to convince people to give it to you. But, I will say, the more short-form stuff we do, the more attention you get and can prove that you know how to really pull something together from start to finish and get audiences interested in it. You have to have a portfolio either way.
E: How long does a production generally take, from story to conception to post-production? Do you work to a strict production time-frame, or do certain parts of the process require time to develop before you can move on to the next step?
Z: When an idea pops in our heads, we bounce it back and forth until it becomes a story. That takes as long as it takes, it’s hard to rush a good idea. Once we have something we’re excited about, we spend a good night shooting it, a few days with an editor and composer, and that’s generally it. We try to make the story as simple as we can, distil it to its essence. That makes production and post all the easier.
E: What are your future plans? Will you share any secrets with Kendall Reviews readers about your future projects?
Z: We have a few projects in the works we’re very excited about. Not much we can talk about at the moment. There’s a short we crowdfunded before everyone got locked in their homes. Once film sets are a thing that exist again, you can expect that.
T: And usually we shoot a short film, then write a feature, so right now we’re finishing up a couple of screenplays that we’re excited about.
Born in the midwest, Zak White and Todd Spence immediately became lifelong fans of the genre after discovering the horror section in their local video stores and watching TV shows like Tales from the Crypt and Are You Afraid Of The Dark? But what really attracted them was the treasure trove of imaginative concepts, nightmarish tension and fun monster/creature designs, keys that stayed with Todd & Zak as they create their own horror films, and keep that type of filmmaking alive through their own work.
Enjoy the films and share them if you enjoyed them! We certainly enjoyed making them, and scaring you in the process.
Please visit and subscribe to the Midnight Video Youtube Channel HERE
You can follow Todd Spence on Twitter @Todd_Spence
You can follow Zak White on Twitter @TheZakW
Image Credit: Dave Jacobsen
Elizabeth Wilson is an artist and writer from South East Melbourne, Australia. Her work is inspired by the horror in everyday life, the power and beauty of the natural world and childhood nostalgia. She makes mixed media art from dolls to wall hangings, some of which have their own little stories, and is an author of four zines (coming to Kindle in 2020), and a gothic art book called ‘Mulberry Manor’ which is about to go into print and be made available via Kindle.
Her art can be purchased at elizabethscuriosities.square.site
A Gothic Tale of Overcoming the Past…Of choosing your own Fate.
The loyal servants of Mulberry manor have become weary with concern and melancholy.
An unnamed fear inhabits the stately home, and their beautiful and kind mistress, the beloved Lady Josephine is wasting away in its clutches.
At the stroke of Midnight, the Lady is always found, wandering the halls, candle in hand, lilac eyes fixed to one side in anticipation of an encroaching Doom…