After Midnight

****1/2

Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

After Midnight
"The sweetness in this film and its lightness of touch are utterly beguiling. Nothing you can do will prepare you for the way it ends."

They loved each other, recalls the song playing as Wade (Henry Zebrowski) and Abby (Brea Grant) decorate their home. But she had married a handsome man who never finished school.

Abby has been unhappy for some time. Perhaps it didn't always show. She and Wade had a lot of fun times in that house, but one day he wakes up to find a note and find her gone. How long ago was this? It's not entirely clear. Wade has been getting through quite a few bottles of wine. Pieces of past and present segue together unevenly. Her police officer brother Shane (Justin Benson) comes calling, concerned about him. Less concerned than Wade thinks he should be about the other problem - the monster that keeps trying to break into the house every night.

It's a small town and word gets around. Everybody hears about Wade's monster. Nobody really helps him out. So he spends every night on the sofa wedged up against the door, with his shotgun in his arms. And still she doesn't call.

Jeremy Gardner and Christian Stella's winsome tale of thirtysomething angst, romance and existential terror, which screened at Fantastic Fest 2019, is beautifully written and played. A central scene in which Wade and Abby sit in the hallways discussing her love of cities and his love of the place where they grew up is one of the finest pieces of interpersonal drama in any genre film to date. How much has she sacrificed for him? Did he ever really mean it when he talked about what he'd be willing to do for her? The chemistry between the two is electric yet the scene remains low key. She loves him but she has to be realistic. He's overwhelmed by his luck in finding her and it bubbles to the surface as resentment.

The outside of the door is covered in claw marks. Shane tries to make realistic suggestions. Could it be a black bear? The sound it makes when it batters up against the door is terrifying. Could it simply be a product of Wade losing his mind?

The sweetness in this film and its lightness of touch are utterly beguiling. Nothing you can do will prepare you for the way it ends.

The setting is perfect. The old house, whitewash gradually flaking away from the timber. The thicket of untended vegetation around it. It's ordinary, unremarkable, enchanting and the perfect hiding place for some unnatural terror. Wade remembers Abby's smallness in that landscape. The film's meandering dialogue is deceptively telling. It's easy to get lost in the everyday and miss what matters.

Reviewed on: 21 Sep 2019
Share this with others on...
A man struggles with loneliness, the possible collapse of his relationship and the fact that every night a monster tries to break into his house.

Director: Jeremy Gardner, Christian Stella

Writer: Jeremy Gardner

Starring: Henry Zebrowski, Justin Benson, Brea Grant, Jeremy Gardner

Year: 2019

Runtime: 83 minutes

Country: US

Festivals:

Fantastic 2019

Search database: