After Midnight is part romantic drama and part creature feature. We follow Hank (Jeremy Gardner, who also directed) who is being visited by some sort of creature every night after his girlfriend Abby (Brea Grant) leaves a note and disappears. Hank’s friend Wade (Henry Zebrowski—the show stealer) lends a supportive ear while Shane (Justin Benson) tries to argue reason.
Hank spends most of his days and nights drinking, looking for the creature, and thinking of Abby. We get to know their relationship through flashbacks. Perhaps my biggest problem with the film is that their relationship never seems functional or healthy. Abby clearly wants something else than what Hank does, and yet the two seem to just be with each other out of convenience. We also have a major plot thread of Hank needing to propose to Abby, which seems a somewhat odd focus. We end up with a major support of traditional marriage more than any notions of a healthy relationship.
The film does well in the second half to rectify these issues, but we end up having to redevelop the characters at the halfway point. Hank is an overgrown child, and he must face his own demons—figuratively and literally—if he wants to get what he desires.
The writing, directing, and acting are all excellent. Wade offers much needed levity to the early moments and steals every scene he is in. Gardner’s directing is patient and requires close attention. The lack of camera trickier (minus one tense scene in the dark) gives the film a dreamy quality. I appreciate that Gardner is confident enough in his story to let it unfold naturally.
The meshing of genres can work well. After Midnight gives us less of a blend and more of a layer as the story unfolds. This decision makes the individual scenes work but placing them together might cause a bit of whiplash. We tend to shift, and shift quickly, between vastly different genres. I liked it, and the tonal dissonance spoke to me. However, I can see where some folks won’t enjoy it.
I can’t talk about the ending, which is an awesome conclusion, so this review feels a little short. For folks looking for something a little different, I think this will fit the bill.