This year, the "After Dark" outfit has made a pretty big deal about their new "Originals" line. In previous years, almost all of the After Dark horror films were acquisitions, and not in-house projects -- but that's all changed for 2011. The unfortunate irony, however, is that if you scan through all of the After Dark horror flicks, you'll realize that the very best ones ... were all acquisitions. The Broken came from the UK, Dying Breed and Lake Mungo are Aussie imports, and Borderland hails from Mexico. There have also been some half-decent American indies beneath the After Dark banner, but most of those were "bought," and not "produced" by After Dark Films.
So with eight out of eight new After Dark films being touted as in-house productions, a smart horror fan may bemoan the lack of foreign imports from After Dark this year, but fair is fair: the creepy thriller Seconds Apart may actually be the finest film yet "produced" (not simply "released") by the After Dark team.
The flick kicks off with a rather memorable introduction: a group of powerfully obnoxious high school jocks are sitting around a table, playing quarters while a party rages in the next room. All of sudden, the game goes from quarters to Russian roulette -- and the results are truly messy. But what would make a bunch of popular, handsome jocks commit suicide together? Aha, it's probably that freaky pair of identical twins that nobody likes who are standing in the corner and recording the slaughter on a video camera.
Yep, they're the villains! It seems that twin brothers Seth and Jonah have a rather unique gift: they can make people do terrible things using only the combined power of their twisted twin brains.
From there we're introduced to a cop with a tragic back-story (Orlando Jones), and then Seconds Apart becomes a surprisingly compelling little horror tale indeed. Sure, it borrows a few ingredients from Carrie, Dead Ringers, and the wonderfully disturbing Joe Dante section of the Twilight Zone movie, but director Antonio Negret and screenwriter George Richards do a quietly impressive job of offering up a low-budget horror concept that's both beholden to older ideas, but is also just fresh enough to warrant another 92 minutes. The leads are quite excellent, as they have little problem exhibiting their wrath, frustration, and plain old meanness in rather entertaining fashion -- but young Gary and Edmund Entin could easily make the leap from low-budget horror to slightly more high-profile projects.
If Seconds Apart rambles on a bit in its third act (and spends a bit too much time focusing on the detective's rather uninteresting back-story), those are minor issues from a little chiller that actually manages to deliver something of quality. And if After Dark is planning to continue with its own films instead of picking up some foreign horror fare, they should look to Seconds Apart as an example of how to do it right.