Movie Review: After Dusk They Come (2009, Dir. Jorg Ihle)

Before I start, I’d like to preface this review with two things. A spoiler warning, since I will be giving away plot points, and a rhetorical question: Why is it when ever filmmakers decide to make a monster movie set in a jungle they always feel the need to either homage, or rip off, Predator?

And it’s not just Predator, Aliens is another flick that has seemingly burned itself into the brain-pans of filmmakers, elements of which I also see sprinkled, and/or blatantly dumped into genre flicks. I have nothing against those movies at all, I even count them as some of my favorites, but there’s a point where filmmakers need to stop borrowing from other movies and concentrate more on creating original material.

I shall now step down from my soapbox and say the Predator element that was borrowed for this movie is very slight, recognizable, but not something that I would label a rip-off. Homage, in this instance, feels more appropriate.

I requested After Dusk They Come to review based on a few things—the concept (who doesn’t love a good old fashioned monster movie?), the trailer, which looked pretty damn good, and the cover art of the DVD, which reminded me of an older box art style, drawn instead of photo-shopped. I did have some reservations, as one always does when the main characters are basically kids.

The cast is made up of two alpha males, two chicks, and the “comic relief.” There is a nice dynamic here, one of the chicks used to date Alpha Male #2, but exposition early on makes it clear they broke up, and she shacked up with this fat, rich guy who tagged along on this ill-fated trip of theirs. These two broken apart characters never get any resolution in the movie before they die, though, he does show her in one scene that he still cares, before she’s dragged off and killed. I was cool with the absent of closure for them, since it felt more like real life. Not all relationships get closure.

Before the five kids get shipwrecked, there were a few moments when I had a feeling I had gotten my hopes up much too high. I was not immediately drawn to these characters and this kind of movie hinges on how likable and relatable the cast of kids are. My one gripe with the characters is a common one, every time a group of kids are put together one of them always has to be a douchebag or borderline douchebag. Here thankfully, it was the latter.

I will say in the movie’s defense the resident douchebag isn’t always such. There are a few scant moments early one where you think he may not be as douchey as he’s portraying himself, and I was relieved to see him reach that moment of redemption, with a scene he shares with his main squeeze on the island, before all the dying begins, that made me like him a little bit more.

Characters and their development aside, the shit doesn’t hit the fan until they lay their heads down for the night, waiting for the rescue ship that is coming for them. Morning breaks and Alpha Male #1 is gone, with only a bloody trail into the woods to give any indication as to what happened to him and what direction his body may have been dragged, if he is indeed dead.

The creatures that inhabit the island are humanoid throwbacks that are more feline in appearance than ape. Kind of reminding me of something you’d find on and island ruled by a dude named, Dr. Moreau. I had no real problem with the design or the fleet-footed execution of the man-beasts as they ran through the trees and hunted the kids. They are meant to look dangerous, and they are. The only quibble I really had with their design was the desire of the filmmakers to make them blind. The blindness for the creatures in The Descent (2005) makes sense, as they are living in a world where they is no natural light, nor a chance of there ever being any, thus no need for eyes. Here the blindness of the creatures doesn’t jive with their environment. They may reside in caves, but they come out to a jungle to hunt, and not only at night, which makes the title of the movie misleading. Why are they blind then?

Contrary to the tone of this review so far, I am not giving this movie a thumbs down. Despite these grievance, I enjoyed the flick immensely and was completely into it once Peter’s friends entered the jungle to look for him. I understood how a couple of them felt when their companions start dying, so certain that to continue on with their hunt was pure suicide. I also understood the other side of the coin, too, that if one of my dear friends was left out there, wounded in “enemy territory,” I would want to continue the search too, even if I knew in my bones it would indeed be a suicide mission. And I was on pins and needle as Liz needed to sneak into the creature’s cave to retrieve the life raft they stole from the beach, Schwarzenegger-style, covered in their slime to cover up her human scent.

When I watched the trailer, I had this weird moment of deja-vu, like I had seen this very plot done before in another movie. I hit up IMDB to see what I could learn. Apparently, once the movie was in the can, the filmmakers went ahead and remade it. The only reason I could find for this was some vague explanation of them not being happy with the end result of After Dusk They Come. The movie’s remake goes by the title, The Lost Tribe (2009), and was released over here in the States by Image Entertainment released in 2010.

I have never seen The Lost Tribe version, only its trailer, and it looks like they used a different set of kids, added a team of men with guns, made the creatures more ape-like, and threw the ever dependable Lance Henriksen into the mix. It appears more action oriented, where this one feels more horror oriented. Either way I’ll have to make it a point to pick that version up some day and compare the two.

The film’s transfer (2.35:1) is crisp with excellent colors and skin tones. Added extras include a 10:07 Making Of, a photo gallery, the movie’s trailer, and trailers for Siren, The DescentThe Descent Part 2, FEARnet TV and the EPIX channel.

One last thing, there’s a photo of the creatures on the back cover. Disregard it, for they aren’t accurate representations of the actual beasts seen in the movie. The artwork is cool, but the things on the back cover look too demonic and not something that would look indigenous to a jungle environment.

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