After Midnight is wonderful example of a small movie achieving great things. This quirky romantic comedy/horror from directors Jeremy Gardner and Christian Stella delivers on almost every level. Not only did the pair direct After Midnight, but they also edited the film, while Stella acted as cinematographer and Gardner wrote the script and stars. That’s some talent on display.
After Midnight follows the 10 year relationship between Hank (Jeremy Gardner) and Abby (Brea Grant) and the curious monster which lives in the woods outside their country house. The relationship has come to an apparent end and Abby has moved out – but now Hank seems to get nightly visits from a monster which lurks outside. Is the creature real, or is it a figment of Hank’s fragile mind?
Expertly written by Jeremy Gordon, After Midnight is a wonderfully relaxed piece, which plays with genre conventions and expectations. The horror and comedy go hand in hand, while the romantic aspects feel honest and real. Gardner and Grant connect in a way onscreen which gives the impression that they have a history behind them. We get to see them at the beginning of their romance and at the point of deterioration. They share some wonderful scenes, especially an extended and uncut moment where they discuss the state of their relationship. Both actors are excellent and they deserve to go on to achieve great things.
After Midnight‘s supporting cast might be small, but those actors also impress. Henry Zebrowski is great as Hank’s wastrel best friend with a penchant for drinking the swill from beermats. Meanwhile the film’s producer, Justin Benson is also good value as Abby’s brother and the town sheriff who is frustrated at Hank’s laziness and apparent craziness.
Music plays an integral part in After Midnight‘s construction, and the original score by Eric Krans and Jen O’Connor is exceptional. The score captures the tense and atmospheric tone of the horror scenes, while the moments of lightness and romance are also well represented. The film also features some great songs from bands, The Parlor and The Hummingbirds and these tracks also help move the plot and characterisation forward.
A film which must be experienced, there’s a tremendous amount to recommend in After Midnight. Engaging, funny and emotionally honest, you should seek it out as soon as you can.