Justin Chang, NPR:
"Sam Shepard brings his signature gravity to bear on the role of the cult
leader, a more twisted sort of father figure."
L. Urban, Urban Cinefile:
"The film begins with a masterclass in powerful minimalist performance from
Sam Shepard as the head of the sect - the Ranch - which plays a key role on
Turan, LA Times:
"...a religious cult called Third Heaven Ranch led by the shrewd, charismatic
Calvin Meyer - the reliable Sam Shepard."
Joshua Rothkopf, Timeout NY:
"A deliciously evil Sam Shepard."
Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, AV Club:
"The Ranch is led by the smug Caleb Meyer - Sam Shepard, typically excellent."
Nicholas Barber, BBC:
"There aren't many films that pack so much intrigue into their early scenes.
The later scenes, unfortunately, aren't quite so gripping. First, Nichols makes
the mistake of leaving Calvin and The Ranch behind, thus neglecting one of
cinema's cast-iron rules: 'Any film with Sam Shepard in it will seem a lot worse
once Sam Shepard is no longer in it.'"
Stephen Romei, The Australian:
"Roy is Alton’s father. Lucas is Roy’s friend. They have taken Alton from a cult
known as The Ranch, where for the past two years he has been the adoptive son of
the leader, a flinty, smart Sam Shepard."
"The weak link, surprisingly, is Kirsten Dunst as the boy’s mother, who
comes to the party late and can never seem to find her footing. That is quite the
contrast to Sam Shepard, who absolutely dominates the early going, only to
disappear from the movie. Shepard’s screen presence is off the charts. This role
and his turn in last year’s superb thriller, 'Cold in July', show that he is
simply a script away from an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor."
Christopher Campbell, About.com:
"Although not lacking in intelligence, 'Midnight Special' isn’t necessarily
smart science fiction so much as a smartly directed road trip movie with a
sincerely felt science fiction element. It’s a father and son tale first and
would be strong with that center even without the genre qualifications.
Considering that, however, raises the only issue worth having with the movie,
which is that its other major paternal character, a cult leader played by Sam
Shepard just disappears midway in and we never hear about him again.
Otherwise, it’s nearly perfect."
Kate Taylor, Globe and Mail:
"The film begins with startling mystery as Alton is abducted by his own
father with the help of an unexplained but steadfast confederate named Lucas.
Turns out, they are escaping a fundamentalist Texan cult where the stoney-faced
patriarch, a chillingly tamped-down cameo from Sam Shepard, has forcibly
Leonard Maltin, IndieWire:
"The superior supporting cast includes Adam Driver as an inquisitive NSA agent
who doesn’t follow the rulebook, Kirsten Dunst as Lieberher’s estranged mother,
and Sam Shepard as a religious cult leader who feels he has a claim on the boy."