Friday, December 12, 2014

2014 in Shit: The Midnight After

The Midnight After was, in most respects, one of the best movies I saw this year. I saw it on the strength of its director -- even though the only Fruit Chan film I have seen is the "Dumplings" short from Three...Extremes -- and the fact that the premise, with my immediate association of the Langoliers miniseries, seemed promisingly goofy. And, for the first half, it hit exactly where I hoped it would, willing to engage the goofy premise seriously with the attendant levity. For the second half, too, as a matter of fact. A good whole, of course, shouldn't arbitrarily be split into two good halves. I promise that it wasn't.

In the dead center of the movie there is a scene. As, I suppose, there should be; were there no scene, it would presumably mean the movie had ended. Certainly it is a scene that cuts the movie in half. After the premise has been set up, and after the relationships have been established, and when that is all about to start bearing fruit; that's when it happens. Once everything has been explained and before anything has happened. Once the good will has been won and before it needs to be tested, expanded, engaged. It's the cut in half moment. It's where the hope goes from an abstracted thing that is being gratifyingly fulfilled to an abstracted thing that can be dispassionately viewed happens. It sucks. This movie sucks.

Right at the midpoint of The Midnight After -- if not in timestamps, then certainly in feeling -- there is an extended sequence in which two of the guys who have been absent for some time from the rest of the group admit that one of them raped one of the women that had earlier been found dead. This admission is played out on screen, for an incredibly long time. She dies of some mysterious cause part of the way through, and the rapist keeps on. After, the rest of the group decides that to dispense justice they are going to kill the perpetrator, by way of each of them stabbing him.

It is obviously supposed to be some sort of meditation on the postapocalyptic setting, in the way that setting is always leveraged to say stupid shit about the Nature of Man. It's the same sort of bullshit you get everywhere with these things, and its fucking exhausting and, because of how good the movie has been up to that point, especially demoralizing. It sucks. Fuck this movie.

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