• After Midnight (Umbrella Entertainment) DVD Review

    Released by: Umbrella Entertainment
    Released on: March 13th, 2020.
    Director: Jeremy Gardner, Christian Stella
    Cast: Jeremy Gardner, Brea Grant, Henry Zebrowski, Justin Benson, Ashley Song
    Year: 2019
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    After Midnight – Movie Review:

    Jeremy Gardner, the man behind 2012’s The Battery, writes, stars in and co-directs After Midnight, made in 2019. The plot revolves around a man named Hank (played by Gardner himself) who, along with his beautiful girlfriend Abby (Brea Grant), moves into a massive old family home out in the sticks of rural Florida. It’s a huge house, but it definitely needs some work, and that isn’t lost on either one of them.

    To celebrate Abby’s birthday, they have some food and some drink and then Hank offers her a gift – a kitten! It’s clear that they care about one another deeply, but so too is it clear that Abby wants different things in life. As such, one morning Hank wakes up and she’s gone, a ‘Dear John’ letter left in her place. Left alone in the weird old house, Hank starts hearing things at night – clawing at a door, the sound of an animal of some sort outside trying to get int.

    Not one to just take all of this lying down, Hank, quite understandably, tries to get Abby on her cell phone. He calls a few times and leaves her a couple of messages pleading with her to call him back. The cat goes missing and he tells her that a monster ate it. He starts sleeping with a loaded shotgun and rearranging the furniture in the house to keep the doors barricaded shut. A cop named Shane (Justin Benson), who just so happens to be Abby’s brother, comes back to check on Hank and make sure he’s ok – but really, it’s because he got a complaint that someone from the house fired on a passing motorist. Hank shows him the scratches he sees on the door, but Shane doesn’t pay it much mind, trying to reassure him that it’s just an animal. Hank takes some solace with his friend Wade (Henry Zebrowski). They go out one night for beers at the bar he and Abby used to run together. But the monster keeps coming and Hank’s mental state keeps deteriorating.

    This is quite well done and very well directed, but it loses steam in the last twenty-minutes or so. It doesn’t quite spoil the impressive build up completely, but without ruining the ending for those who haven’t seen the movie, it does hurt it a bit. Still, there’s enough going on here that Gardner and company get right that this is worth checking out for those looking for something a little bit different from a modern horror movie. The acting, first and foremost, is very good. Gardner is really, really good as Hank, especially since he’s partially responsible for directing himself here. He’s believable and sympathetic enough to really work in the part. Brea Grant is also very good, we like her and want she and Gardner to be together because of that likeability factor. Henry Zebrowski and Justin Benson are also more than solid in their supporting roles.

    The direction is good, though again, the ending… meh. Still, there’s some well-played flashback scenes here that do a fine job of building up character development and letting us in on little bits and pieces that wind up mattering as things proceed in the narrative. To be fair, the finale might actually work better for some people than it did for me, a lot of it will depend on your own personal headspace and how relatable you find the main character(s) to be, so I don’t want to really knock the film for that reason. It is very well shot and just as nicely edited, there’s plenty of technical polish here and a good score as well. Open minded viewers should probably ignore everything I’ve just written and give it a shot but even if the finale didn’t wow me, the build up to that finale is really strong.

    After Midnight – DVD Review:

    After Midnight comes to DVD from Umbrella Entertainment in an anamorphic widescreen transfer framed at 2.35.1 anamorphic widescreen and it looks just fine. The feature looks to have been shot digitally and, as such, there are no noticeable issues with any print damage, of course. Colors are reproduced very nicely and quite accurately and detail is just about as good as it’s going to get for a standard definition presentation.

    The English language Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound track on the disc is of very good quality. Dialogue stays clean, clear and easy to follow, and as you’d expect from such a recent feature, there are no problems at all with any hiss or distortion. There are no alternate language options or subtitles of any kind provided.

    There are no extra features on the disc, not even a menu screen.

    After Midnight – The Final Word:

    After Midnight starts off quite strong but loses things towards the end. Still, there’s enough here that works that, as imperfect as the film winds up being, this is worth checking out. Umbrella Entertainment’s DVD release is barebones, but it looks and sounds quite nice. Not an essential release, but an interesting, if flawed, picture.