Thursday, May 24, 2012

On Second Viewing: After Sundown (2006)

Like it or not, those of us that review movies sometimes end up revisiting ones that we didn't care for when we first saw them. Call it a form of masochism, call it dedication to your craft, or you can call it a momentary lapse in judgement. Sometimes, we find ourselves enjoying said movies upon second viewing, while other times...not so much. Without further adieu, let's take a look at a movie I previously reviewed.

Sometimes, horror likes to take an "Everything but the Kitchen Sink" approach when it comes to making movies. Sometimes it's not enough to just be a slasher movie-sometimes you have to throw in ghosts and possession. Sometimes it's not enough to simply be a monster movie-sometimes directors feel the need to add a serial killer to the equation. In the case of Christopher Abram and Michael W. Brown's "After Sundown", it's not enough to be a vampire movie-they felt like their movie needed zombies too.

In the 1800's, Molly Porter (Natalie Jones), along with her newborn child and husband Thomas Jenkins (director Abrams) have been killed in the old west. Cut to 2006, in which they are dug up, and the stakes placed in their hearts are removed, leading them to rise and unleash revenge on the town, and in the process look for their child-which is in the possession of Shannon (Susanna Gibb) and Mikey (Reese Rios.) The two vampires also have the ability to bring the dead back to life as zombies, and they use this to take over the town.

Giving it a second viewing, I did find myself liking "After Sundown" by at least half a point more. The actors are shockingly good for a micro-budget (about $80,000) vehicle, and while the characters aren't great, they at least feel like real people instead of the usual stereotypes you get in movies like this. It also have a few striking visuals (the image of the dead walking in the cemetery is worthy of an Italian zombie movie), some cheap but fun gore (though the kills aren't anything special) and compared to Brown and Abram's previous movie "The Fanglys", it's a much better directed movie.

Unfortunately, as far as genre juggling is concerned, the movie really doesn't work. It wants to be a vampire movie and a zombie movie, but the two concepts just don't work together. In fact, we aren't given any reason as to why the vampires need an army of zombies when they could have just made a whole army of vampires. The whole thing makes no sense whatsoever, and just left me scratching my head. It also wants to be a Gothic horror tale and a tongue-in-cheek blend of horror and comedy, but that doesn't blend either. Most of the Gothic imagery isn't anything you haven't seen before, and none of the comedy is funny. Granted, it's rarely annoying, but it never clicks. Add a weak conclusion and moments that feel like padding, and you have what could best be described as a movie that could've been alright, but isn't.

As a whole, I can't really recommend "After Sundown" except to people who want to see movies that have lots of potential but in the end don't meet it. Or for hardcore fans who want to see every zombie movie on DVD.

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