Midnight Special is a 2016 American science fiction drama supernatural film written and directed by Jeff Nichols, and produced by Sarah Green and Brian Kavanaugh-Jones. The film stars Michael Shannon, Joel Edgerton, Kirsten Dunst, Adam Driver, and Jaeden Lieberher. The film is Nichols’ fourth full-length film and his first studio production. It was selected to compete for the Golden Bear at the 66th Berlin International Film Festival.
The film revolves around Roy and his biological son, Alton Meyer, escaping federal and local officers, after discovering that Alton has special powers.
The film began a theatrical release on March 18, 2016 by Warner Bros. Pictures, expanding wider in subsequent weeks.
Roy (Michael Shannon) has fled a religious cult in rural Texas with his eight-year-old son Alton (Jaeden Lieberher), who possesses otherworldly powers. An amber alert is issued for the child, leading Roy and his accomplice—long-lost childhood friend, state trooper Lucas (Joel Edgerton)—to help bring the boy to an undisclosed location on a specific date, during which a celestial and possibly world-changing event may occur.
While driving through the back country late at night, the three are involved in a car accident. They seek shelter with Elden (David Jensen), a former member of the religious cult. Meanwhile, the FBI investigates the cult in their search for Alton; Paul Sevier (Adam Driver) leads interviews with members who proclaim Alton’s supernatural abilities, explaining that the boy had to live on a nocturnal sleeping schedule and was unable to face daylight. Apparently, the church’s sermons and their dates, based on prophecies made by Alton, are encoded with secret government information communicated by satellite.
Roy and Lucas leave Elden’s with Alton and stop at a gas station, where Alton uses his powers to pull a satellite from space, which ignites like meteors as it rains down on the area. They flee and meet Sarah (Kirsten Dunst), Alton’s mother, who has been excommunicated from the cult and has not seen her son in two years. While on the road, Alton senses the air patrol searching for him, and he urges them to stop. He runs into the woods, followed by Roy. They hide in a cave while Sarah and Lucas hide at a motel. Alton, in a weakened state—as a result of violent fits in which his eyes emit beams of light—tells Roy he needs to be in the sunlight. They watch the sunrise together. The earth begins to shake, and a dome of light surrounds them.
They arrive at the motel. Alton is inexplicably reinvigorated by the sunlight. He explains that he has discovered where his abilities originate: there is another plane existing on top of Earth’s, and he originates from there. Sarah tells Roy that she believes it may be their last day with their son, as the next day is the date of the cataclysmic event which Alton has prophesied. As the four attempt to leave the motel the next morning, they are ambushed by two henchmen from the cult (Bill Camp and Scott Haze), who kidnap Alton. Their car, in turn, is stopped by a military roadblock checking all vehicles cars in search of the boy and Alton is flown to an FBI facility.