Meewella | Critic

According to P

Tag: Justin Benson

QuickView: Synchronic (2019)

“You know the real tragedy of meeting the love of your life? If it’s happened, it’s behind you. It’s not gonna happen again.”


Synchronic is paranormal science fiction that follows a pair of parademics who stumble upon a link between strange cases and a new designer drug called “Synchronic”. Setting most of the film at night heightens the oppressiveness of paramedics’ work and the ease with which one might start to crack, an approach Scorsese deployed in Bringing Out The Dead. I am not familiar with Benson and Moorhead’s previous directorial output, which exists in the same continuity, but Synchronic reminded me of the New Orleans in Out of Blue (released the same year), a heightened reality steeped in an atmospheric sense of melancholy and mysticism. The friendship between Anthony Mackie and James Dornan’s characters is the core of the film, and their chemistry together, supporting and sniping, makes Synchronic work. Separating them as the film descends into its time travelling conceit is problematic as we care less about the characters in isolation. Steve is intelligent in his experimentation but, for the most part, the results of his temporal ruminations are not exactly profound (“The present is a miracle, bruh”). The result is engrossing ambiance but the time spent with Synchronic will swiftly slip away.


QuickView: After Midnight (2019)

“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.”


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.


"A film is a petrified fountain of thought."

(CC) BY-NC 2003-2023 Priyan Meewella

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