Once upon a time, there was a series called After Dark HorrorFest. It featured 8 films (ostensibly films to die for) of varying quality. One could usually expect about 2 or 3 good films, but it was fun to marathon the bad ones too. In 2011, this fest has moved on and become After Dark Originals, producing and distributing their own films instead of acquisitions. This would typically mean that After Dark has taken a turn from quality varied to Suck City, but we’re happy to say there’s at least one solid film in the lot. Seconds Apart.
Seth and Jonah are murderous twins who share an evil kinship. Damned from the moment of their births, the brothers possess a gruesome talent for telekinesis – a power they use in the most horrific ways imaginable. As their fellow students meet gory fates, the local law enforcement begins to suspect the twins’ connection to some depraved murders. What started as a jealous rage escalates into a supernatural showdown – pitting brother against brother, evil against evil.
Damned from the moment of their births is a bit much, isn’t it? Antonio Negret’s film stars Orlando Jones (Evolution, Primeval and MADtv), twins Edmund and Gary Entin as the creepy boys (Creatures in The New Daughter, The Rest Stop series, The Seeker: The Dark is Rising) and Louis Herthum of The Last Exorcism. Although real twins may prefer it this way, there aren’t many horror films that approach this theme… The Shining, Altered States and ?… In a world of endless zombies and vampires, it’s great to find a film that takes a less-traveled path.
Review by StayFrosty and Jenny Dreadful:
Seconds Apart is a surprisingly good film. If we saw it at a festival, we would be pleased. Honestly, this was unexpected – After Dark doesn’t exactly have the best track record, but we can gladly add this to the short list of cool films they’ve distributed including Lake Mungo, Mulberry Street and The Abandoned. This twin thriller does not necessarily reach those heights, but it makes a good go of it.
The film starts strong- opening with a creepy scene where a frat party goes terribly wrong. (And not the way frat parties are normally terribly wrong) It’s confusing and disturbing and, as you’re then introduced to the nearly identical Seth and Jonah, their sinister project and the horrific results, the film holds your interest and keeps you guessing.
The twins are evil – we know this from the beginning. They have frightening mind powers, much stronger when they work together of course, and they aren’t afraid to use them. Some viewers may have preferred a slower reveal of their abilities and the truth beind the visions they inflict, but it becomes clear that the film-makers intended to establish the characters early and tell a different story. This choice works well and the director is able to keep a good pace going despite revealing a potentially huge secret so early. There are other secrets to be revealed.
The twins themselves do an excellent job. They synchronize their movements and appearance and perform as unnerving mirror images. Inappropriately serene and emotionless half the time, the characters are fleshed out enough to avoid being one-dimensional horror stereotypes. When the girl inevitably comes between them (because they may be twins with evil powers, but they’re still teenagers), it’s interesting to see how their intense bond turns into a battle.
The acting is solid all around. Even Orlando Jones, who is primarily known for middling comedy flicks, shines here. His detective character is a scarred, haunted man with a dark backstory. He lost his wife in a terrible accident and he struggles to keep it together while also investigating murders he knows are connected to the twins. This is, perhaps, the main leap of logic in the plot. Of course, he’s right, but how does he jump to this mind-powers conclusion so soon? Regardless, no one believes him and some unethical, volatile interrogations with our young “heroes” don’t help his case.
It would be easy for them to fall back on tired tropes and jump scares like most genre offerings these days, but not in this movie. Atmosphere is this film’s strongest selling point. From the twins themselves to the look of their home and their interactions with their parents, (who behave like a mixture of Stepford and pod people) the atmosphere is creepy and unsettling. The inevitable twists within twists are handled with a sure hand too, not feeling shoved in because every film needs a spoiler these days, and they pack a punch. Even the last act, where many films tend to falter, is strong. This is in part because it follows the overall flavor of the film and part because it avoids the common problem of tedious exposition. Not all is explained by the end, but this feels natural. Enough is revealed to piece the story together without feeling like we are being force-fed all the plot points they forgot to mention earlier. We’re not going to tell you what happens – watch the movie, you cheaters!
Let’s go back to the atmosphere because it deserves its own paragraph. The art director should get a cookie, because every environment rocks. Richly detailed, vibrant, well-lit and lushly textured, these sets really help keep the eerie mood sustained. We can’t express enough just how damn creepy this movie really is. Seriously. Not that it’s pants-wetting scary, but the overall atmosphere is powerful.
Does it Pass the Bechdel Test?
No. There are a few female characters, but none of them really interact.
Would We Recommend?
We watched this one together and both recommend the film. For a direct to video flick, it’s way better than what one would expect – a hidden, creepy gem. For any flick of its type, it’s still really strong. One to keep on your shelf.