Jeremy Gardner (The Battery) presents his latest directorial offering, the enigmatic and endearing, After Midnight.
Formerly titled ‘Something Else’, After Midnight debuted in April 2019 at the Tribeca Film Festival. In the UK it screened at Celluloid Screams, the Sheffield Horror Film festival to high praise from the audience. From June the 8th the film will be released on limited edition Blu-ray and is now available to stream on the Arrow Video Channel and Digital HD.
Off the bat, After Midnight requires minimal knowledge about the plot before viewing it, going into the film blind is highly advised. Essentially, if you are familiar with Jeremy Gardner’s previous work then the slow burning, distinctively indie move style with the horror taking place as a secondary feature won’t come as a surprise. It’s plain to see that this film is divisive but wholly worth sticking with as it proves, effective with resonating themes.
Hank (Jeremy Gardner) leads a comfortable, small-town life out in the sticks, seemingly happy and contented with his girlfriend of a decade, Abby (Brea Grant). One day, without warning, Abby mysteriously vanishes right before her birthday, leaving only a cryptic note behind. The event sends Hank into a tailspin that suddenly becomes nightmarish when he is hounded nightly by what he believes is a vicious creature, scratching on his front door.
Isolated and afraid, can Hank face up to his demons, and will he convince those closest to him that his supernatural experience is real? After Midnight presents romantic drama combined with psychological horror with an engaging premise and a strong central performance from Gardner.
After Midnight is a slow-burn that takes a slice of life approach in its pacing and storytelling. The film is contemplative and poignant as we view the lead characters navigate through a troubling period in their lives.
The ordinary and extraordinary collide effectively with the film focusing on the emotional impact of Hank and Abby’s fractured relationship with an unexplainable sinister element lurking in the background. The subtle approach to the mystery surrounding the creature is well executed as it plays out as an allegory for Hank’s feelings of loneliness and the unknown since Abby vanished.
Jeremy Gardner gives a brooding performance as a man seemingly contented with what he has until his life is blown apart forcing him to address the fact that you don’t know what you have until its gone. Brea Grant is equally excellent as Abby playing her character with depth and believability.
The two actors display strong chemistry with the viewer seeming like a voyeur on the outside, looking in gaining an insight into this couples’ personal troubles but at the same time not being able to look away, eager to see their story out to the bitter end.
Henry Zebrowski and Justin Benson are excellent in their supporting roles. Zebrowski injects much-needed comedy to the proceedings while Benson is the voice of reason playing Abby’s skeptical police officer brother, in over his head in trying to deal with his brother-in-law’s reckless actions.
The film incorporates a superb soundtrack with Justin Benson making a possible intentional call back to The Endless (2017), while a popular 1994 pop hit gets some welcome attention. Without revealing the song title, it’s going to be difficult to not associate it with the scene in question after viewing this film.
After Midnight weaves a compelling character-driven plot, with unnerving horror elements and dark humour added into the mix. The film features an incredible sound design that implies the lurking horror, conjuring up imagery in the viewers’ minds of what could be out there.
With the setting and characters appearing normal and representative of regular life, the idea of something supernatural on the prowl is intensified as the thought of something inexplicable entering day to day life is unsettling.
After Midnight is not your conventional horror movie but it is unique in its own right. The blend of horror with domestic drama works well.
While the film is going to be inevitably polarizing when it comes to genre audiences, its wholly deserving of your time as its wonderfully clever in how it executes the story to a satisfying effect.