Ten years after meeting, Hank and Abby are at a junction of their relationship – she’s bored of living in the small town, while he’s stuck in a rut, merrily whiling away the hours hunting and living in the run-down house his family has owned for generations. Worried that nothing will ever change, Abby leaves a note for Hank and disappears for four weeks while she figures things out. During those weeks, Hank is in a sad state. He’s constantly reminiscing about when they were happy (through copious rose-tinted flashbacks), he’s heavily drinking… oh and he’s also trying to kill the monster that’s been visiting his house every night.
If it sounds like the ‘monster’ element is a side note in this review, it’s because it’s a side note in After Midnight. This film flips what is usually a huge element in a monster movie (i.e the monster) and relegates it to a bit part. Written, co-directed and starring (as Hank) Jeremy Gardner, After Midnight is an exploration of a relationship that has hit a speed bump and then throws in a terrifying creature.
However, rather than this being all genre-skipping cleverness, there’s too much rom-com for it to be an effective monster-rom-com (or mon-rom-com if you will). This leaves the monster element of it feeling a little silly and being entirely unnecessary. When Abby finally returns, the two have a lengthy heart-to-heart about their relationship, focussing the film even further on the couple in the finale and it’s almost as if the creature is forgotten (almost) by the time the credits roll.
At times funny, at times romantic, at (a few) times jumpy, it’s hard to define After Midnight but there is a lot to like. Gardner’s performance as hapless Hank is earnest and likable, as is Brea Grant’s frustrated Abby. Henry Zebrowski as Hank’s friend Wade is also funny and charming, and their buddy chats are a lovely addition to the movie. The film is also beautiful, with long wide shots of rural Florida and even Hank’s decrepit house has a charmingly shabby element to it. The harsh contrast of the soft-focus colourful flashbacks compared to the stark cold tones of the present is also a nice touch.
This two-disc Arrow Video edition of the movie matches the film’s beautiful aesthetic and it comes with a plethora of goodies including Gardner’s first feature The Battery available on Blu-ray for the first time in the UK. It also features a self-taped-during-self-quarantine (due to Covid-19) interview with Justin Moorhead (who produced and stars in the movie, and is one half of producer duo with Aaron Moorhead who we’ll soon be seeing more of with upcoming sci-fi belter Synchronic), a Q&A, plenty of fun and interesting featurettes, plus lots more.
After Midnight is available now from Arrow Video priced at £24.99.