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  • Rev Horror

The After Dark

Dir. Tom Devlin (2024)

Two vampire clans clash in this punk rock retelling of Romeo and Juliet.

Tom Devlin is a special effects guru who has had his fingers all over the horror genre for years. With dozens of indie films to his name and some truly memorable monster creations, helming the effects and makeup department for film series like Puppet Master and Club Dread. He's recently taken to directing, starting with the better-than-expected Teddy Told Me To, and he's doing quite well in that department as well, as today's film is his fourth feature as a filmmaker. He also runs Tom Devlin's Monster Museum in Boulder City, NV, adding yet another iron to the fire of indie horror goodness Devlin is responsible for. The After Dark is his attempt to take on vampire horror with a little bit of a Shakespearean influence.

The After Dark is an underground punk club for vampires led by Dax (Nicholas Cvjetkovich, the WWE's Kizarny), and Jack (Danny Saxton) is one of its most important players. Mary Beth (Ashley Ballou) lives with a group of high society vampires led by the evil Vigo (David Heath, Gangrel from the WWE), and she falls in love with Jack after he helps her when she is attacked by a hoodlum on the streets. Their love is forbidden, however, and the pair must figure out how to navigate their warring clans in order to continue their relationship without causing everything to come crashing down around them. Jack and Mary Beth find themselves trapped within the power struggle of Dax and Vigo, but will love conquer all even among the undead?

Punk and horror have so many shared influences, both often having an underground appeal that runs counterculture to what's deemed "normal" society. Having a horror movie that directly references both of those worlds plays really well, the dirty and dingy hideaways of the vampires giving the film an attitude that a lot of indie horrors lack. The costuming of the films is impressive, and it really helps to carry the feel of the whole film. The music, likewise, is a fun addition to the movie and really brings the film's perspective to the forefront.

The actors are a little wooden at times but not outside the norm of a barebones indie flick, and the story is a bit slow moving as well. Again, not outside the realm of the normal vampire film either. The film takes full advantage of two of its stars' wrestling background, with some very well choreographed fight scenes near the end. The story itself is good, though, and the Romeo & Juliet-inspired plot is a really interesting one when told from a horror perspective. Devlin is a talented storyteller, no doubt gleaning a good bit of his knowledge from his extensive history in the industry. The effects are, of course, good, not a surprise from a man with a deep background in that site of production. In fact, the vampires are very similar to those seen on Buffy, which makes sense because Devlin actually ran the effects for the Buffy porn parody.

The first two acts in the film are all about the story, setting up the love angle while establishing the rivalry between the two vampire gangs. While there is clearly a good side and a bad, a departure from the Veronese familial inspirations, both sides make perfect sense within vampire lore. The third act, however, goes nuts, a full-on horror and gore-laden bonanza for genre fans. The last fifteen minutes of the film is filled with some chaos and gnarly kills, exactly what was needed to liven up a fairly leisurely-paced movie. Allowing Devlin to show off his effects chops is a must, and while he's a good filmmaker in general, this part is where he really shines. While it's not quite as impressive effects-wise as Teddy, it's still a damn fine effort in indie vampire gore with a few nifty slayings.

Who this movie is for: Indie horror fans, Vampire film lovers, Shakespeare addicts

Bottom line: The After Dark is a punk-rock vampire retelling of Romeo & Juliet, and it's an entertaining one at that. The effects are good, the story is compelling, and the actors all do an adequate job in their roles in the warring vampire clans. It's not a 1:1 of Shakespeare, however, and while it's not a movie that you're going to surprise you very much, it's an interesting take on the classic. Devlin is a talented director, and this is a film filled with indie goodness. If you get a chance to watch it, I definitely recommend you do so.

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