Horror Movie Review: After Midnight (2019)

It feels wrong to write this review from a horror movie website perspective as it’s very light on horror. Even if the marketing has attempted to draw in that crowd. It’s why we watched it, the cover and that fact that it is on Shudder convinced us.

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Truth be told, it’s more of a drama with touches of monster-movie madness here and there. Does that mean you shouldn’t watch it if you’re a horror nut? Absolutely, you should as it’s got some occasional good scares, mystery and a bloody finale. However, the main reason you should watch it, is because it is an excellent movie overall.

Directed by Christian Stella and Jeremy Gardner, the latter also wrote and stars in the movie. He plays Hank and he is in love with Abby (Beau Grant). We meet the pair early in their relationship where he has brought her to a decrepit old house his family owns in a small Florida town. It’s a heart-warming and lovely introduction as the pair have great chemistry and then the film smash cuts to Hank as he is now, shooting a hole through his front door that he has barricaded with his couch.

There’s something outside, something that comes at night and scratches to get in.

So what has happened? The film reveals that Hank and Abby lived together in this house for some time but he woke one morning to find a note from her. It simply said:

I had to go away for a while…sorry.

It’s a little hard to keep up at first as the film doesn’t let on just how much time has passed since the opening scenes and how long Abby has been gone for. As it goes on we will eventually learn that the note arrived 10 years after they moved in together, and the night visitor has started happening immediately after Abby left.

Nobody in the town believes Hank’s story of course and even us, the viewer, is left to wonder if he is imagining it. After all, we never see a monster for most of the film’s runtime. It sends your imagination into overdrive which does mean many might find themselves disappointed with just how literal this film is.

Many might be disappointed, but many others will be captivated by a story that focuses on the couple and their problems. Forget the monster, the highlights of this movie are the characters of Abby and Hank, as well as the talent behind them and how their relationship is presented.

We get it though… isn’t it supposed to be a horror movie? While few and far between, the film does have some effective scares. A claw quietly reaching into a hole, a looming shadow at a window, a very cool bear-trap and chain sequence, one hell of a jump-scare at the end… they are there and they work.

Is it enough to convince horror fans that this is worthwhile? Probably not but After Midnight deserves to be seen. It’s a movie that captivates from beginning to end, even if its focus is more on couple drama than anything else. Add in lovely cinematography and a moving soundtrack and you really have a top-shelf movie.




After Midnight (2019)
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