On this episode of The Nightly Chill, we look at the strange Hong Kong comedy-horror flick, The Midnight After.
On a night just like tonight, a colorful group of strangers come together on a long bus ride home. But when they come out the other side of a long tunnel, they’ll find that the world has become a much stranger, deadlier place…in The Midnight After.
The Midnight After, from director Fruit Chan, is a comedy-horror experience straight from Hong Kong and proud of it. But, more importantly, it’s also an experience unlike anything else you’ve seen.
The movie happily dances that dangerous tightrope between full-blown horror movie and comedy. The story is engaging. The concept, terrifying. And the imagery is a morbid delight.
More so, the strange grabbag of stereotypes that we watch suffer are easy to love, laugh at, and be scared for. The overacting and scene-chewing is intentional and feels at home in a movie where the conflict is so sudden and over-the-top. Everything is turned up to 10, and the movie is all the better for doing so.
That said, The Midnight After is a clear example of how the journey can also be the destination.
Given the movie’s origins as a web-novel published in pieces on an internet forum, it’s not surprising to see it struggle with basic things like pacing and structure. There’s little in the way of a plot. Scenes just sort of carry on at their own leisure. And characters bicker constantly for the sake of bickering.
But somehow it all works. The characters and their interactions with one another is the focus here. The strange circumstances and the way they’re tortured–or the way they torture each other–is an excuse for the character stuff to happen. The characters are what bring the comedy. They’re the reason why we’ll care whenever something frightening happens on screen.
And even if you aren’t familiar with the language or culture–which may be likely given it’s Hong Kong setting and production–the performances still come across as golden. None of the characters feel under-served or without purpose. They have clear desires and goals. And the fact that you’ll be rooting for a good chunk of them to survive despite some of the things they say and do? That’s a fun, fresh change of pace for these sorts of movies.
The language barrier is sure to prove an issue for some. And Chan’s predilection for depicting small-scale Hong Kong life and culture could prove to be too much culture shock for even those who are fine with reading subtitles. But should you find it in you to give a The Midnight After a fair shot, you will thank yourself afterward.
Fun, creative, and without a dull moment, The Midnight After is definitely a BIG CHILL.