What can I say about The Midnight After? Well, It’s directed by a guy named “Fruit,” and written by a guy named “Pizza.” As bizarre as that statement sounds, it’s both completely true, and the best, and only way, to describe the rich insanity that is this motion picture.
The story of seventeen people boarding a bus, and emerging from a tunnel to find themselves completely alone, the movie boasts an interesting premise, and absolutely nothing else. It’s marketed as a satirical horror-comedy, but it isn’t scary. Or funny. Now, admittedly, my limited knowledge of Cantonese might be why I don’t get most of the humor. After all, certain jokes only make sense in certain languages. And perhaps there are certain things that I, as an American, don’t get that would be obvious to Hong Kongers. But none of that excuses poor storytelling, and this film is rife with it. Various plot threads, like one dude’s supposed disappearance for six years, the importance of David Bowie’s Space Oddity, and the inexplicable appearance of Japanese men wearing gas masks, get introduced, only to be dropped without ever being explored. And while the cardinal rule of screenwriting is “show, don’t tell,” it’s never a good idea to “show without telling.” That’s what this film does. It shows quirky characters in an odd situation. But the situation itself is never explained, and much of these character’s arcs remain incomplete. And as if that weren’t bad enough, this movie is boring. I’m talking DULL! About 20 minutes in, I checked out completely. Never has a movie lost me so early.
But beyond its narrative shortcomings, the movie also fails from a technical standpoint. What I mean by that is, there’s some weird editing in this picture. There are several points in the film where characters will flashback to scenes which have already happened, but, in these flashbacks, we’re shown the characters doing things we didn’t see them do the first time. And it’s not like in Oceans Eleven, where things look different because the characters were deceiving us. These flashbacks have them doing stuff that just didn’t happen before. It makes no sense, and comes off as sloppy and out of place.
Guys, all I can say is, DON’T WATCH THIS MOVIE. It’s dull. It’s pretentious. It’s bad.