I’m such a man; a beer-swilling, football-watching, chair-sitting man with an unnecessary amount of body hair for the most enlightened primate species. It’s my natural inclination to run aghast from any romance-oriented media. Romantic Comedies are all but banned in my house and as a child whenever Blind Date came on the TV, I would go outside and murder tramps instead.
Every so often though, I’ll be in the mood for something a little kissy, huggy, or heartbreaky, but which doesn’t involve sticking your fist down your trousers. You won’t find me reaching for a Diane Keaton flick, or whatever the modern counterpart is (presumably an older Diane Keaton), but if the film has some sort of supernatural or sci-fi slant I’ll begrudgingly give it a go. After Midnight is one such instance.
I picked After Midnight primarily because of the talent involved, my general positive experiences of their previous work, and the fact that the cast and crew always try something different. Plus, it has the same name as one of my favourite Horror Anthologies. Jeremy Gardner directed the delightful The Battery, and writes, stars, and directs here. Brea Grant has been in a tonne of cult shows and movies over the years, and Producers Benson and Moorehead have been involved in the V/H/S series, The Endless, and one of my favourite movies of 2014 – Spring – which is even more of a love story than this!
The story unfolds in a scattered fashion, from present day to various points in the past, as we follow Jeremy Gardner’s Hank who seems to be battling both booze and something creepy in the dark. In between beers, he reminisces about his past love Abby, who has apparently left him for reasons unknown. By day, he sits in his giant yet barren and unkempt house or travels in to town to barely reconnect with friends, all the while drinking, all the time remembering Abby. By night, he is seemingly stalked by a creature which is either trying to get into his house, or to get him. Is it a figment of his imagination or his booze-fuelled haze? Are the locals messing with him? What happened to Abby? Why do I enjoy it when the description presented above makes it sound a bit shit?
Well, it’s all very intriguing. It also has one of the best written and acted scenes I’ve seen in recent years, as Jeremy Gardner and Brea Grant sit and drink and ponder their past, their future, and what lurks beyond. The story unfolds without a care in the world and rather than being a study in romance or an outright horror movie, it feels much more like a paranoid character study using a monster as a metaphor for the outside forces and feelings which surround the maelstrom of any relationship and what can happen if you fail to address them. Slamming the door shut won’t make them go away, yet confronting them may cut you to shreds. Grant and Gardner have a wonderful, realistic chemistry and will dialogue and performances sometimes touch on the mumblecore side of things, everything feels as close to the bone as the jaws of a beast on your arm. It’s not going to be for everyone; if you’re a hairy horror boy like me, you might be dismayed by the lack of scares or the pace. If you’re looking for a happy romance, you’ve come to the wrong house. If you want an honest and forthright glimpse into messy relationship woes with a touch of Jaws thrown in, then perhaps After Midnight is something you’ll love.
Let us know in the comments what you think of After Midnight!