The Horror Honeys: Blue Balls and Bullets

Blue Balls and Bullets

A Sci-Fi Honey Review

After The Dark (Formerly ‘The Philosophers’)

Arty: showily or pretentiously artistic - “arty lighting and photography”.

So, I saw the trailer for After The Dark, and thought "wow! Sci-Fi and post apocalypse and nuclear explosions and an underground bunker and moral dilemmas! I need to see this!" Fatal words, no?  I sat down and watched it and… 


Here’s the basic premise. On the last day of school in a Philosophy class in Jakarta, the philosophy teacher named Mr. Zimit decides to give his students a giant final test/exercise. The students feel pretty much like any student would, and rightly so, that Mr. Zimit is a bit of a dick for doing that. Seriously, the last class before graduation? They should be filling out lame teacher questionnaires and planning the bender they’re going on that night. But anyway. In this philosophical exercise, he presents the scenario of an oncoming atomic apocalypse. There is a bunker ready to shelter them for a year, but it only has supplies for ten people. There are 20 people in the class. Mr. Zimit asks his students to decide who of them should be allowed into the shelter, and who gets left outside to crispy critter in the nuclear fallout. The students each pick their theoretical occupations from a box, which range from Engineer and Doctor to Fashion Designer and Published Poet. 

The teacher is quite big on logic - it’s pretty clear how he thinks it should go. In the movie three different scenarios play out, two led by him, and one led by a student. 

After seeing it, I will warn you upfront that this movie being billed as Sci-Fi is a bit of a misnomer. It isn’t Sci-Fi, in my opinion, or if so, barely. The trailer sets it up like it’s a virtual reality thing happening where students outrun nuclear blasts and there are giant temples. One description of the film says: Faced with an impending nuclear apocalypse, they must determine which ten of them would take shelter underground and reboot the human race. The decision quickly becomes deadly as each in the group turns against each other in a desperate fight for survival that blurs the lines between theory and reality. Um, no. It’s clear throughout that it’s purely a cerebral exercise in a classroom. While it does depict visually what is happening in each scenario, people are talking in the background and the movie flips back to the classroom regularly. I found the line extremely un-blurry, actually. And calling it an action movie isn’t right either. As far as horror goes, there is a lot of death in After The Dark, from shots to the head to radiation poisoning. But I’d call it an Arty Thinker if I had to label it.

How would I describe it…Very, very artsy and a touch pretentious. The kind of movie you’d spend hours dissecting with your ‘Arts 1000’ classmates when you’re 20 years old, but if you’re over 35 (below that probably) you’re eye rolling a bit and saying stuff like ‘just shoot him in the head, you don’t want this dick in a bunker with you for a year, you’ll kill him. I don’t care what the fucker can do.’

This is not was a nuclear war would look like.  It's less blind-y.

That said, it’s an interesting experiment, and often quite an interesting movie. It examines the perceived value our society places on the arts, and questions what kind of society we actually want to live in - what makes a civilization? Would you want to just save the engineers and doctors, or would you want people in the bunker that get along and won’t kill each other before the year is over? Maybe some combination? Should they just kill all the gay people since they can’t procreate, or do their skills that can help the survivors override procreative ability? How many women do you keep? How many men? Will anyone get laid? How the hell could a bunker full of artists survive, what will they eat, papier mache??  And will you STOP SHOOTING THE ARTS PEOPLE IN THE HEAD, YOU DICK???

It’s pretty clear from the get go that the professor has a hidden agenda, and you begin to think early on he has a few bats in the belfry. In the scenarios he runs (the first two) he keeps throwing in twists/traits for his apocalypse persona that MIRACULOUSLY make him indispensable. I couldn’t work out if he was a narcissist or just likes virtually shooting random students in the head. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that he had a bad experience with a poet at some point in his life. Or maybe he actually IS a bad poet and is secretly killing himself! Get a couple of 19 year old first year arts students to discuss it, they’ll figure it out, I can’t be bothered. 

The third scenario they come up with is a good one, at least for anyone Left-leaning, which the writers/director clearly are. My BF actually commented ‘Stephen Harper would HATE this movie!’ Seriously, would you want to live in a country (bunker) where there are no arts, no theatre, no music, no fun at all? The ending…how do I describe the ending without spoiling the shit out of it… Basically a slight twist ending. And it was a bit eye-rollingly arty. Again. When it ended, BF just said “Really???” And he’s an actor. The word ‘Poncey’ was also used a few times during the viewing. 

We're the last 10 people in the world.  Let's have a weenie roast and sing Kumbaya!

Sci-Fi Honey Lowdown: This movie wasn’t what the advance billing led me to believe. It isn’t sci-fi, or particularly action, so if that’s what you’re after, look elsewhere. If you’re looking for a movie that activates your brain a bit, don’t mind some pretentious twaddle interspersed with some great visuals and a semi-predictable twist ending give it a shot. I didn’t mind it, mostly. I won’t watch it again, but it was ok.

Sci-Fi Honey Rating: 3 Pretentious Artsy Fartsy Philosophy Professors with a Gun Fetish out of 5.