Written by Adam Weber (This was his first time up as scribe.) and directed by Michael Aguiar (His second stint in the big chair.), After Hours stars the prolific Bill Oberst Jr. as a detective investigating the murder of a young girl in what appears to be a thrift store.
The young lady is working after hours and once the lights go off, before she can leave the shop, it seems that she is not alone. When she goes to investigate, things take a tragic and deadly turn.
Detective Harris arrives to find that the girl he questioned earlier in another case has been brutally murdered in the store’s elevator. As he searches for clues, the killer stays busy.
After Hours proves how effective camera work, spot on lighting and some on point suspense, via sound, can take a short film and really make it shine. Cinematographer William Schweikert gives us crisp images, even in the darkened shop, that focuses on the events without distraction.
The FX in the film pack a satisfying wallop that is just this side of brilliant. (Keep an eye out for it and see if you do not agree that it is more than effective.)
The lighting is used to set things up, as is the soundtrack itself, and Aguiar, who edited the film, puts it all together flawlessly. The end result is a thriller cum horror film that delivers its punch very nicely.
Bill Oberst Jr. has over 164 credits under his belt and the actor brings a stamp of truth and authority to whatever role he plays. In this film, his portrayal of the detective with drive and a keen attention to detail makes the ending come across brilliantly.
Gabriel Lee, as Detective Cordova, projects a sense of realism in the few seconds he has on screen and Tracy Decresie screams the place down very convincingly.
Aguiar pulls us in nicely and moves the tale along at a solid pace. This short horror thriller manages to deliver a one-two punch that surprises as much as it pleases. The build up to pay off is expertly done, so much so that even with a repeated viewing or two, the essence is still there. Watching the film several times also allows the viewer a chance to catch all the clever nuances that Michael has “hidden” in the movie.
The director recommends watching After Hours “in a darkened room.” He also suggests wearing earphones to enhance the experience. His advice is sound (pun intended) but watching the film without the tips still entertains and has an impressive scare factor.
After Hours is still on the festival circuit and will, no doubt, garner some excellent reviews from horror fans and critics alike. Film’s like these are what the short film category was invented for. Succinct, punchy and clever this film earns a full 5 stars for effectiveness and an O. Henry flavour that delights.
Have a look at the trailer for a taste of this nigh-on perfect offering:
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