Lionsgate // 2009 // 87 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Paul Pritchard (Retired) // October 2nd, 2012
Pray For Daylight.
After Dusk They Come has an odd little history that, having seen the film, I fail to fully understand.
Having completed production on the film -- originally title The Forgotten Ones -- its distribution deal fell through, so the crew set about reshooting the entire picture. Eventually released as The Lost Tribe, this remake featured an entirely new cast, but told the same story, bar a slight change to the third act.
While I can understand to some extent the desire to remake a film and perhaps seize the chance to put right things that didn't quite work previously, there is nothing about After Dusk They Come that suggests its feeble story could ever be anything other than an also-ran.
A group of friends enjoying a luxury cruise find themselves stranded on an uncharted island when their yacht capsizes. Hoping to make the most of their unexpected solitude, Peter (Justin Baldoni, Everwood) proposes to girlfriend Liz (Jewel Staite, Stargate Atlantis), who readily accepts, but their happiness is to be short-lived.
While the outer island offers miles of idyllic coastline, the rest of the island is made up of dense jungle that is home to a tribe of cannibalistic creatures that soon begin picking off members of the group one by one.
Except for a brief prologue, in which we get the briefest hint at what is to come, nothing much happens during the first half of writer-director Jorg Ihle's debut feature. Sure, we get plenty of inane dialogue amongst its group of barely tolerable leads, but when the sole highlight of the opening 40 minutes turns out to be Jewel Staite unexpectedly cutting the cheese, you know you're in for a real stinker.
I'm all for building up anticipation before unleashing the horror, but it's difficult not to tune out completely when all that is being offered is a bunch on unlikable twenty-somethings bickering at each other for an hour. A love triangle of sorts gets introduced, but goes nowhere. In fact, there is nothing in the opening hour that couldn't have been streamlined, or excised completely, as none of it has consequences later on when the action finally starts. Other than Jewel Staite's Liz, there is nobody even remotely worth rooting for, even Kellan Lutz (The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 1) who's featured front and center on the disc cover despite having a small role. As the horror elements are gradually introduced, it's difficult not feel that this has all been done before.
I will say this, though: After Dusk They Come is one fine-looking picture. The jungle setting is utilized well, and the excellent cinematography far exceeds the expectations one has for a direct-to-video release such as this. Shadows are employed to suitably creepy effect, as the cannibalistic monsters are rarely seen in bright conditions. When they are finally revealed, the excellent makeup work ensures they at least look a formidable foe.
When the film finally steps up a gear, After Dusk They Come enters into Predator territory, with Jewel Staite inexplicably going toe-to-toe with an entire cannibal tribe, having previously shown little backbone. Staite is an actress I have a good deal of affection for, thanks in no small part to her wonderful turn as Kaylee Frye in Joss Whedon's Firefly and it's cinematic spinoff, Serenity. Still, the role of Liz is far too generic, and really gives Staite far too little to work with. Grumbles aside, the largely wordless final act is definitely the best thing about After Dusk They Come, even if for no other reason than it at least contains moments of real incident. While the action scenes are relatively few, they at least inject a little pace into what is otherwise a resolutely slow and unimaginative film.
From a technical point of view at least, the DVD release for After Dusk They Come is a winner. Picture quality is very good, its sharp standard def 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer packed with detail. The jungle setting really highlights the strong colors, along with the deep black levels. The Dolby 5.1 Surround mix also impresses, with a well-balanced mix delivering crisp dialogue amongst the often busy mix. Extras for this release are standard fare, and begin with a short "making of" featurette where the cast and crew discuss the location shooting at some length, while behind-the-scenes footage offers reveals on some of the stunt work. Also included on the disc are the film's original trailer and a photo gallery.
While After Dusk They Come isn't offensively bad, it offers so little that you'll be forgetting it as you watch. With so many better movies of its ilk out there, this doesn't even pass muster as a rental.
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Scales of Justice
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 87 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Photo Gallery