Horror anthology about a college professor (Zada) teaching a course called "The Psychology of Fear". He brings his students (including psychic McWhirter) to his home, one dark and stormy ...
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Horror anthology about a college professor (Zada) teaching a course called "The Psychology of Fear". He brings his students (including psychic McWhirter) to his home, one dark and stormy night to tell scary stories. The first involves a young couple whose car breaks down by an old, abandoned house. The second has four trendy teenage girls getting lost in a bad part of town, and chased by a pack of vicious dogs. Last, we have Helgenberger confronting a stalker at the answering service where she works the night shift.Written by
Dzong A.D. Tranchina
In the pantheon of iconic horror anthologies, you have your "Creepshow," your "Tales From" both "Crypt" and "Darkside," and even a "Twilight Zone The Movie."
...and then you have "After Midnight," which in no way belongs to the same league as the aforementioned genre standards.
Really, "After Midnight" is the sort of thing you'd let slide to the bottom of your Netflix queue until one bored Friday or Saturday night. Within the first 20 minutes or so, your instincts prove to be true as this 3-part anthology has little to offer that its predecessors haven't already done in much bigger and bolder fashion. That's not to say that this film is completely worthless or without merit. There are some over-the-top, silly moments that -- whether intentionally or not -- will elicit a chuckle from anyone in the right mindset. It also boasts a pretty solid cast of "Hey, I know that guy!" and "Oh, that's the voice of Bobby Hill!" It's just so unfortunate that most of the 90 minutes spent on this film are devoid of any legitimate scares or creativity. Much like a drunken midnight snack, it comes and goes and leaves little to remember in its wake.
The first story, "The Old Dark House," focuses on a couple who find themselves stranded and seeking shelter in, well, an old dark house. Not much happens in this story until its hilariously stupid yet unforgettable conclusion. Nothing worth losing your head over, though. Next up, "A Night on the Town" finds a group of girls who just wanna have fun but instead have an unfortunate run-in with a crazy hobo and his three vicious dogs. The meatier of the three stories, this one doesn't do much to capitalize on its tense set-up. Its setting is creepy and all, but there's little else of interest here, though genres fans will enjoy spotting Penelope Sudrow of "A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: The Dream Warriors" and Judie Aronson of "Friday the 13th Pt. IV: The Final Chapter" in the pack. Finally, "All Night Messenger," a would- be tense game of cat and mouse between a phone operator (Marg Helgenberger) and some creep making threatening phone calls. This one almost hits the spot, but is undermined by sharing the identity of the stalker with the audience too early and too often. It also ends right when it starts getting good.
The three stories are surrounded by a wrap-around that, bad as it might be, feels a little more fleshed out than the rest. A nutty professor (Ramy Zada) teaches his students about the meaning of fear (or something). Even though their teacher reveals himself to be a bit suspect early on, the students seem fit to follow him home regardless. This of course culminates in a truly bizarre finale that begs a rewind.
Overall, "After Midnight" isn't a movie that can be recommended for anyone other than those who grew up in video store aisles and/or those who remember staying up way too late to watch horribly butchered slasher films on cable TV. It's terribly slow, at times dull, and if you watch it (ahem) after midnight, there's a good chance you'll fall asleep halfway through. Having said that, it's not without its charms, and while there isn't one single segment that sticks the landing, there are a few moments of inspired lunacy that make it worth sitting through at least once. Even still, there's nothing here that is worth losing sleep over.
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