Wednesday, February 10, 2021

After Midnight (2021)

Streaming Services: Shudder
Movie Name/Year: After Midnight (2021)
Genre: Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi
Length: 83 minutes
Rating: TV-MA
Production/Distribution: Rustic Films, Kavya Films, Vested Interest, Drop-Out Cinema, Cranked Up Films, Front Row Filmed Entertainment, Meteor Film, Umbrella Entertainment
Director: Jeremy Gardner, Christian Stella
Writer: Jeremy Gardner
Actors: Jeremy Gardner, Brea Grant, Henry Zebrowski, Justin Benson, Ashley Song, Nicola Masciotra, Taylor Zaudtke, Keith Arbuthnot
Blurb from IMDb: When his girlfriend suddenly disappears, 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.

Selina’s Point of View:
Something strange happened to me with this film. Let me explain.
I thought, from the trailers, that this was going to be a werewolf flick. I LOVE me some werewolf action – but, way too often, the werewolf thing is just a metaphor for abuse instead of being the monster movie I want. That knowledge led me to being skeptical here. That’s the whole reason it didn’t make my Top 20 list.
As I watched, I was almost certain that I wasn’t far off. The meaning of the monster started to shift in my mind, but I was annoyed.
When the ending came around, I started rolling my eyes a bit. I saw there was 10 minutes left and was sure that nothing was going to change my mind about it.
What happened not only changed my mind, it altered the way I felt about the entire thing.

By the time the black screen showed up, I was dying of laughter and unable to stop for about 15-minutes. That may not have been what the creators were going for, but I do have a tendency to laugh at inappropriate times – so this one may just be on me.
The point is, I wasn’t angry at it anymore. My perception of the film did a full 180 and I am certain I am going to remember it as a glorious experience.
Now, this is a screener I didn’t request. I wanted a couple of others, and this just came along with them. I had to reshape the entire February schedule just to fit it in, but I’m glad I did. I’m positive we would not have watched it this month if the screener hadn’t come in, and I might never have known what I’d missed.
After Midnight was worth it. It was worth the hour of extra work, and I’m damn sure it would be worth signing up for Shudder to watch.
If you want to see it for yourself, After Midnight will premiere February 11, on Shudder.

Cat’s Point of View:
I was actually pretty jazzed when I learned that I’d be able to screen After Midnight today. It couldn’t have had better timing, really. I’ve been in real need of a good pick-me-up. My entire household has COVID-19. (Don’t worry, I saw this film on my computer, not at a theater.)
We’re exhibiting only mild symptoms so far, thankfully. Our prognosis is good. Considering my compromised immune system, it could have been much worse.
Needless to say, we’re not going anywhere to celebrate my birthday this February 10th. That made this movie screening experience extra special for me. It was almost as if it were a gift wrapped up in a cinematic bow.
The last couple of films I was lucid enough to review, we saw some slow burners. The productions took their sweet time in getting to the point. After Midnight played its hand slowly, too, but in a way that kept me engaged.
The tension was necessary. It’s crucial to the story here for audiences to be guessing. Is the monster real? Is it all in the main character’s head? Is it just a run-of-the-mill wildlife denizen running amok that’s been misconstrued as a fearsome beast? These questions are meant to plague the viewer. I thought I had it pegged for a little bit, and yet I was definitely wrong on my own guesswork.
This was really a treat of a film. It’s not often that you can mix romance and horror well. Things get awkward when blood starts spilling, you know? There was a clear love story here, though, and it didn’t detract from the story – it was the very backbone.

I really appreciated that After Midnight also took a realistic approach to the relationship here. It wasn’t saccharine sweet and perfect. This wasn’t one of those fairy tales. There were well-nuanced bits sprinkled throughout that highlighted the couple’s journey.
Another bonus point I really enjoyed with this movie was the cinematography. The production captured the very essence of the South in summer. I could practically feel the heat relieved by the occasional cool breeze of an oscillating fan. The buzzing of bugs while Spanish moss swayed in the wind reminded me of down here in Louisiana – but I figure this was probably filmed in Florida somewhere.
There was a lot of good production value here. I love when a monster movie teases you with the big bad boogie, and I was tickled here that you only get a glimpse. I have to tip my hat to the creative team because this creature was definitely unique and it was well-executed.
If I had to pick on something for a negative, I’d really have to be grasping at straws. I wish there was a little more of the monster, to be honest, but I don’t think the movie’s lacking for it.
I have no idea why IMDb lists this as a sci-fi film. Unless they know something that hasn’t been explained in the movie, itself, or the promotional material; I just don’t get where that element fits. Horror and romance are where I’d place my bets.
Shudder struck gold when they optioned this movie as an exclusive. It’s definitely worth the subscription to check this one out.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 88%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 47%
Metascore – 55/100
Metacritic User Score – 5.9/10
IMDB Score – 5.4/10
Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating4/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating4.5/5
Movie Trailer: 

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