When his long-suffering girlfriend disappears suddenly, leaving a cryptic note as her only explanation, Hank’s comfortable life and his sanity begin to crack. Then, from the woods surrounding his house, something terrible starts trying to break in.
Hank (Jeremy Gardner) and Abby (Brea Grant) have hit a rough patch. By that I mean that the new movie AFTER MIDNIGHT (aka SOMETHING ELSE) begins with Hank alone in a large country home after Abby has disappeared, leaving a cryptic note promising a return at some point. Add to that whole mishegoss the fact that a monster continues to stalk the premises at night in Abby’s absence and you have the recipe for an interesting if not entirely successful creature feature cum romantic drama.
It’s not that the movie is bad, it’s actually highly original in its approach and the way it toys with expectations set up by the high concept horror movement of late. Yet, the math doesn’t always add up. As the audience, we are asked to endure longer than necessary expositional moments, character development that goes nowhere and worst of all, karaoke, resulting in a less than satisfactory denouement.
Abby Leaves, Hank gets drunk, and a monster keeps showing up at night causing all sorts of problems. It is clear that the metaphor of a personal demon is at the forefront and Hank goes to his friends in the town for support. Shane (Justin Benson) is a local police officer with the swagger of the MVP of a high school football team who dismisses Hank’s encounters as hallucinations. Wade (Henry Zebrowski) on the other hand attempts to explain things away by telling wade that what he sees every night is a cougar stalking the backwoods. The question is; what is actually happening? Is Hank imagining a monster? Is Abby ever coming back? Will Hank ever move the couch/barricade from the front door?
To explain things any further would be to rob the script, delicately written by co-director Jeremy Gardener, of its subtle revelations. The joy of this film is in the discovery. Yes, the performances are all satisfactory with Gardener carrying the weight of the film on his shoulders, and that is great. But it isn’t the actors that sell this story. No slight on them to be sure, but it is the approach to the well-trod tropes that makes this film work.
Directors Gardner and Christian Stella know what they are doing. Using crisp, beautifully shot scenes against metaphorical melodrama they entice us to believe in what may or may not be happening. That is of course not to mention the impeccable creature work on display and the clean, otherwise grounded sound and production design.
AFTER MIDNIGHT (aka SOMETHING ELSE) is indeed just that. A strange hybrid with noble intentions, the film mercilessly toys with the viewer and demands endurance through the drawn-out moments of red herring story beats.
AFTER MIDNIGHT is opening in limited release and on-demand this Friday, February 14th?
|Runtime:||1 hr. 33 mins.|