Monday, August 29, 2016

The Midnight After, Wrath of David Bowie's Major Tom

A few short days before Neil Armstrong landed on the moon, David Bowie released a legendary song about space travel. His astronaut was suspended over the Earth in a tin can of a spaceship as he remarked how blue the Earth looked.  What does any of this have to do with 2014's Hong Kong scifi/horror film "The Midnight After"? The answer may be an abstract one, especially considering the fellow who explains it to us is soon engulfed in mysterious flames and is left as a burning ember on the sidewalk.
A minibus with a group of 17 motley passengers departs central Hong Kong just past midnight.  After emerging from a tunnel, all traffic and people are gone. Four college students get off the bus and either disintegrate or explode.  The survivors are then in a horrific struggle to figure out what happened and where everyone went. The most colorful theory comes from a fortune-teller,Ying (Kari Hui) who believes aliens from a nearby star have started their invasion.  Chi (You-Nam Wong) receives a call from his girlfriend six years into the future asking where he has been for six years.  Oh yeah...strange noises received on their cell phones are decoded and indicate David Bowie's hit aforementioned song explains everything.
 So what is going on?  Aliens?  Time travel? A pandemic?  Oh yes, weird Japanese guys in gas masks seem to have occupied the city, but they are keeping their distance.  Wait...Japanese?  Perhaps the Fukishima disaster is playing havoc with our protagonists.  Under fear our survivors devolve and the results are pretty bloody.  Necrophilia, meat-cleaver carnage, spontaneous combustion, torture, and frying pan carnage rule. Confused?
 The answers are as abstract as David Bowie's music.  Perhaps "The Midnight After" is a metaphor for those who fled Hong Kong before the handover to China (I got that one on IMDB).  Great characters, a fair amount of gore, and a most fascinating predicament highlight this work, directed by Fruit Chan.  For those wanting easy answers, look somewhere else.  For those of us who like weird and abstract, see "The Midnight After" which now appears on Netflix.

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