It is a tale as old as time…yet another horror film that feels outdated and unintentionally comedic. It would be easy to say that horror films are so much more advanced in both technology and plot, but future generations will watch present horror movies with the same discomfort that I watched After Midnight with. Is it ever really possible to create a lasting piece of art that will be viewed highly for all time?
Many horror movie viewers revel in the archaic tendencies that older horror movies have. The unintentional comedy has the same effect as intentional comedy and the complete lack of acting adds to the viewing experience. The fact is that no one looks at a Picasso, Hitchcock, or Pavlova piece of artwork as outdated. Instead, the truly original and innovative works of art transcend time and can be viewed by any generation. With that in mind, I don’t give into the “cult” aspects of a film or the unintentional. A great horror film is a great horror film no matter what decade it was created in.
While watching After Midnight I was immediately struck by the lack of acting and storyline. This film is a horror anthology; so many short tales are told throughout the length of the movie. The overall plot is fascinating. Two college girls decide to take Psychology 102, the psychology of fear. The teacher, Edward Derek (Ramy Zada), utilizes unique teaching methods in order to simulate fear inside his students. Instead of learning from books, Professor Derek asks that students visit him at his home to experience what fear truly is.
The gathering of students and professor results in a camp ground-esque circle of storytelling. Who has the greatest horror story that can generate fear? There are three stories total and each one has unique qualities that hone in on different characteristics of fear. The Old Dark House is the first story and focuses on the fear of being trapped or lost. A Night on the Town is the second story and focuses on the fear of dogs or being chased. The last story, All Night Messenger, focuses on the fear of being alone or stalked. Each story is horribly acted and transparent, but there are moments of genuine thrills that can keep viewers entertained.
While the short tales may be interesting, the overall plot takes horrible twists and turns at the end of the film. What began as a fascinating tale of the psychology of fear turns into a forced deus ex machina that makes the viewer feel cheated and annoyed. Horror movie lovers can persuade themselves to overlook horrible acting and transparent plots, but they need to be rewarded at some point in order to make it worth watching. Unfortunately, the genuine thrills exhibited in the short stories are overshadowed by the dreadful ending.
Movie lovers that feel the need to catalog all horror films from the 1980s may find interest in this film, but most viewers should avoid this movie. It won’t be the worst horror movie you have seen, but it is definitely not worth digging up and brushing off. Older films will eventually lose the battle with special effects, but there is never a good reason for a movies actors or plot to feel generic and ancient.
If you liked After Midnight, you might also like The Beyond.