Things are wrong, somehow. Hank is sure of it.
His girlfriend Abby (Brea Grant) has vanished, leaving only a vague note behind for him to obsess over. As time goes by, her mail begins to pile up, and it seems less and less likely that she’s ever coming home.
A house is so much more than just a place. All the memories and routines and conversations that take place within its walls give it a personality and it becomes almost a unique character in its own right. But when a person you love leaves your home, there’s a void that almost feels like it takes up actual physical space.
Everyone else is carrying on with their normal lives, but as Hank (played by Jeremy Gardner, who also wrote and directed the film) sits in the sad old house they once shared, he is keenly aware of a malevolent presence that has turned his home into a nightmare. By day, things go on as they always have, and Hank is almost able to ignore the gaping hole in his life. But as soon as the sun goes down, all bets are off. He sits awake at night on guard duty by the front door, clinging to a shotgun in a desperate attempt to reclaim his role as boyfriend and protector of the home.
The concept of the mysterious supernatural creature that no one can see is so self-aware, even the characters in the film seem uncertain of whether the monster is real or merely a metaphor for how fundamentally wrong his life is now that Abby’s gone. But it’s not just about the absence of Abby, it’s their conflict as well, the love but also the insurmountable gap between them and what they want out of life. The monster serves as a distraction, because every moment he spends focused on it is time when he’s not missing Abby or wondering if she’s ever coming back, even though he knows deep down that she probably isn’t.
Of course, sometimes a monster is just a monster. Hard to say, really.
Despite the supernatural elements of Something Else, for the majority of the film it plays out as a quiet, intimate drama. The dialogue is masterfully written, simple and folksy and understated but with words that ebb and flow like poetry.
It features several flashbacks to Hank’s life with Abby, which are dreamy and soft, almost as though a thin layer of gauze was placed in front of the camera. There’s an overwhelming sense of melancholy to the film that belies its status as light horror.
And, not for nothing, it’s nice to see a film told from a man’s perspective where the woman who leaves isn’t depicted as a (forgive the choice of words) monster. Too often they’re painted as the evil villainous shrew who dared to commit the crime of breaking up with a man, but Something Else takes the time to really explore why she left and all of the issues that wouldn’t necessarily go away even if she were to come back. It does this without judging either character.
At it’s best, Something Else shows what a low budget independent film can accomplish on both a narrative and visual level. It’s a clever, compelling tale of loss, the ups and downs of romantic relationships, and, of course, evil bloodthirsty creatures (maybe).
After Midnight arrives on Shudder 11th Feb. 2021