After Midnight
R0 - Australia - Umbrella Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: James-Masaki Ryan (19th April 2020).
The Film

"After Midnight" (2019)

Hank (played by Jeremy Gardner) is living along in his old family home in a rural Florida area with a shotgun by his side to ward off a monstrous creature that lurks in the surrounding area. The townsfolk think he is going insane as no one has seen this supposed monster, and the fact that Hank is still not over the fact that his girlfriend Abby (played by Brea Grant) had left him a while back. Abby's brother and police officer Shane (played by Justin Benson) is concerned for Hank's well being, but no matter what advice is given it resorts to Hank calling Abby's cellphone again and again, and staying up paranoid waiting for the monster's arrival. The reason for Abby's departure is not clear to Hank, as they have had a loving relationship as seen in flashbacks and the supposed monster started appearing after she left. Is the monster all all in Hank's paranoia induced mind, or is something more sinister lurking around him?

The poster for "After Midnight" (previously titled "Something Else" in its early stages) clearly has artwork for a grotesque looking monster, but the film can barely be labeled as a monster movie or a horror movie, as it is a genre bending piece that doesn't fall into any specific category. Co-directed by, written by, and starring Jeremy Gardner, the film's core is a man whose inability to overcome a sudden breakup with a loved one. When the film starts it shows a happy couple moving into a large southern mansion in the middle of nowhere, but then would intercut suddenly with a longer bearded Hank blowing his shotgun in the night and sweating profusely while alone. It later becomes clear that these sequences with Hank and Abby together are flashbacks to happier times and the lonely days of Hank barricading the damaged front door with an old sofa is the harsh reality of now. Heartbreak is never easy to get over and when it comes from one side suddenly leaving, it will leave the partner filled with questions of what exactly happened. Depending on the mental state of the person, it could lead to a simple act of moving on, or in the case of Hank, being completely unsure of what happened and hoping one day that the partner that left would return.

Does "After Midnight" have a monster? Is it an actual creature terrorizing Hank? Is Hank's mental demons playing with his reality? Is Abby a shapeshifter terrorizing Hank? The questions are always in the back of the mind of the viewers, and one should question what is being shown. Are the happy memories of Hank and Abby the truth? These may be only Hank's point of view and these memories may not be what Abby had also experienced. His may be the memories of painting the house, having house parties, making love, and having fun with her. Were there arguments, fights, and tears? Possibly, but those are not what the audiences are given. There are some quick glimpses though, such as a flashback when they are questioned about marriage and kids in which Hank brushes off the topic jokingly while Abby looks and smiles awkwardly. The cycle downward that Hank goes through is also seen through the eyes of acquaintances like Wade (played by Henry Zebrowski) and Shane, and even though they say it is probably a black bear clawing at the doors, Hank is adamant that it is not just a bear, but something unexplained. Audiences are given hints that something exists, but when the creature is fully visible at about halfway through, there is some genuine terror. But again, is this all in Hank's mind or is it his reality?

Spoilers Ahead!
Depending on audiences, there are two outcomes that they could imaging. The possibility of Abby returning or Hank confronting the monster. So it is quite a shocker to find out that both do actually happen and very unexpectedly. Abby returning suddenly and finally having a heart to heart talk with Hank answers quite a lot of questions, and the nearly 15 minute one shot one take sequence of Hank and Abby talking about their relationship is one that is a true highlight of the film. In an almost static shot with very subtle tracking of the camera, the two characters in the shot going through an extremely difficult time in their relationship is at times funny with a few chuckles as well as at times heartbreakingly brutal. As for one of the sweetest and slightly cheesiest moments of the film comes when Hank sings the classic 90s song "Stay" by Lisa Loeb at the birthday party. It's an incredibly tender moment that brings smiles to all the friends at the party but also to the audiences watching. The song "Stay" was originally released for the soundtrack of the film "Reality Bites", and as fate would have it, reality literally takes a bite out of Hank with the emergence of the monster at the party, proving to Hank's friends and to the audiences that there really was a creature that was terrorizing him the entire time. Where the creature came from and why the monster was there is still left to be questioned, but it is certain that one must kill his own demons in order to move on. Whatever the monster represents to one person may be a different vice or memory to another.

The film premiered on April 26, 2019 at the Tribeca Film Festival an played at various international festivals throughout 2019. Umbrella Entertainment in Australia became the first distributor to release the film on the DVD format.

Note this is a region 0 NTSC DVD

Video

Umbrella Entertainment presents the film in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio with anamorphic enhancement in the NTSC format. Colors are quite lively with a glowing and bright look to the flashback sequences while a darker and dimmer look to the lonelier sequences. Blacks are dark and colors look vibrant when they should be for a great looking image throughout. There are some issues with shimmering in some of the outdoor scenes with the leaves, and macroblocking can be seen with walls or other solid objects at times, but nothing too distracting for the viewing pleasure.

The film's runtime is 83:08.



















Audio

English Dolby Digital 5.1
The 5.1 track sounds great, with the surrounds used for the musical moments, the creepy sound effects, and loud bursts of the shotgun blasts and the monster's growls. Dialogue is kept centered, and is well balanced with no issues of dropouts or other problems to speak of.

There are no subtitles for the main feature.

Extras

There are no extras present on the disc. There is no menu and the film starts when the disc is entered and the disc stops when the film ends. The trailer, which is not on the disc has been embedded below, courtesy of Umbrella Entertainment.



Umbrella has decided to only release the film on DVD, but in the United States it went to VOD followed by an April Blu-ray release by Good Deed Entertainment. Extras and specs are to be confirmed. In Germany, Meteor Film is planning a Blu-ray, DVD, and limited edition 3-disc Blu-ray+DVD release in May. In the UK, Arrow Video is planning a 2-disc limited Blu-ray edition with a wealth of extras including Gardner's 2012 feature "The Battery".

Packaging

The packaging states region 4 only, but is in fact a region 0 DVD.

Overall

"After Midnight" is sure to divide audiences, and is a surprising and twisted look at heartbreak along with the demon that one must face in order to overcome it. The Umbrella Entertainment DVD gives the film a good presentation, but sadly lacking extras.

The Film: A- Video: B+ Audio: A Extras: F- Overall: C

 


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