“It’s human nature. We’ve been letting our imaginations draw faces on the noises in the dark since we were living in caves. And we always draw sharp teeth.”Shane
Since 2010’s Monsters, I have been fascinated by the subset of indie monster movies that use the genre as a setting rather than a focus, instead using this backdrop to explore the human relationships which form the heart of the movie. After Midnight falls squarely into this category, as a bartender barricades his house from a creature which seemingly appears just as his long-term girlfriend leaves without explanation. The project is co-directed by Jeremy Gardner (who wrote the script and stars) and Christian Stella (also the cinematographer). For the first half of the film, the absent Abby is seen entirely through repeated flashbacks — the familiar, lazy Hollywood trope of a man remembering a sweet, smiling woman without any depth at all. Thankfully, that changes entirely in the second half, where Brea Grant is able to provide a far more nuanced performance that tackles the difficulties in the pair’s relationship, which becomes the crux of the film. Sidelining the monster aspect in this way will no doubt frustrate those hoping for standard genre fare, and the blending of disparate styles in romantic drama, psychological horror and a monster movie will alienate others. Due perhaps to its ambiguous target audience, After Midnight is an underrated indie horror that, whilst not successful in everything it tries, presents fresh ideas in a bold package and — clocking in at under 90 minutes — does so without the bloat that often results from mixing genres. If nothing else, its ending is guaranteed to provoke a reaction.