The IFC Midnight Slate Will Put After Dark Films Out of Business.

Posted by Peter Hall - June 25th 2009 @ 10:15 am

Courtney Solomon, owner of After Dark Films and sayer/doer of stupid things, needs to open up his knowledge basket to the IFC Films release platform.

When the ADF Horrorfest started three years ago it was hard to hide the hope one had for a once a year event designed to bring the horror festival experience to the non-festival crowd.  Then the ‘fest’ actually arrived and all the noble(?) intentions were for naught. It was a financial fumble the first year out.  Turns out the only people who appreciate the highs and lows of festival horror are the people who go to horror festivals.  Whodathunk?  Plus it doesn’t help that the ADF lineup was less the highs and more the lows.  Year after year this axiom proved truer, the ‘festival’ picked up lamer and lamer titles and locked in narrower and narrower clients who were suckered in to exhibiting said pseudo-fest.  This past January I would have had to drive for over an hour to catch a glimpse of any of ADF’s 2009 titles.  I don’t even have to get off the couch to catch IFC’s Midnight Movies.

Essentially both IFC and ADF attempted the same thing, but only one of them got it right.  While ADF was busy giving niche release to justifiably unreleased titles, IFC’s talent scouts signed up genuine festival buzzers and have given them simultaneous release to both brick and mortar and home theaters alike.  With an expected roster of 30 titles in 2009, I predict that IFC is going to put the final nail in the casket of ADF’s horrorfest within a year- two tops.  That or After Dark is going to have to ape the format (I sense a FEARnet collaboration in the future?).  Even if they do, however, I wouldn’t call it a comeback.  IFC’s acquisition’s department game is just too good.

I already gave a brief overview of the lineup to come, but now that I’ve had a chance to sit down with a few more of the titles my assumptions have only been reaffirmed.  Unfortunately this post has been neglected on the site and some of these titles may no longer be available through IFC OnDemand.

HUSH, a British film from writer/director Mark Tonderai that gives the Don’t Fuck With Truckers niche a very welcome infusion of adrenaline with a touch of humor.  It’s a well plotted, tightly paced story of a couple on an ordinary drive when the male, Zakes, thinks he sees a woman trapped in the back of a semi.  It could have just been an illusion in the heavy rain, but once they keep crossing paths with the truck it all hits the fan and Zakes’ girlfriend ends up in the back of said truck with a now considerably worse-for-the-wear Zakes in hot pursuit.

It’s good stuff out of England, perhaps my favorite Don’t Fuck With Truckers film since BREAKDOWN, which I have no problem admitting hooks me every time.

This review for PONTYPOOL should make clear my enthusiasm for the Canadian mind bender.  Bruce McDonald knows how to reel in the viewer with a story of a radio show hosted in the basement of a church in a town quarantined for unknown reasons.  A lot of people seem to yearn for a different ending, but I’ve got no problem with it.  One of the more enjoyable genre titles I’ve seen this year and, fortunately, PONTYPOOL is still available through IFC.

Requiring little background is the much buzzed about DEAD SNOW from Norway.  It’s hard to not garner word of mouth when dealing with Nazi Zombies so I don’t think I really need to explain more about the movie other than it is readily available for anyone who has access to IFC.  Expect a review in the next week or so.

Also still playing on IFC is THE OBJECTIVE from BLAIR WITCH co-helmer Daniel Myrick, which concerns a CIA man who leads a special task force into the mountains of Afghanistan in search for an explanation for unexplainable intel.  It’s more sci-fi than horror and has a good cast that flirt fleetingly with cool concepts, but the film never goes the distance one may hope for.  Then again, THE OBJECTIVE makes the very similarly themed scenario of RED SANDS look like child’s play by comparison.

Then there are the titles on the horizon.  ANTICHRIST, easily the most talked about title out of this year’s Cannes’ film festival, has just been optioned by IFC for its duo On-Demand/Theatrical release platform starting October 21st.  Arriving two months prior will be Glass Eye Pix’s I SELL THE DEAD.  Coincidentally, right as I typed those words an IM popped up from R.J. Sayer declaring the horror comedy about a grave robber, which he had just seen at the LA Film Festival, as “pretty damn good”.  Those of us not in LA only have the short wait of August to catch I SELL THE DEAD.

And then there are all the non-horror titles (CHE, HUNGER, and GOMORRAH to name a small few) that will keep IFC flush with the financing to maintain a well stocked Midnight Slate.  I say that not to imply that a Midnight Slate is unprofitable, especially not when you have a roster of titles as strong as IFC snatches up, rather to show just how much stronger of a business IFC is than the Courtney Solomon run After Dark Films.  Solomon’s only option to remain at all competitive is to adopt IFC’s release model.  Even if ADF copies IFC’s business plan, I think it is too late in the game for them to catch up.  IFC has proven themselves as not only viable, but the natural evolution of how to release independent films post-millenium.  ADF lacks the clout and, after the diminishing performance of its titles, the pockets to attract winning talent.

They’re done for.  IFC has proven it pays to risk being ahead of the curve.

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  1. June 25th, 2009 | 12:18 pm | #1

    I caught I Sell the Dead at the Tallahassee Film Festival, and while it had some humorous moments, it was overall a let down. It slowly became incredibly slapstick and bombastic in its attempt to make the audience laugh, and, if I recall correctly, suffered from some pretty bad direction.

    Hey look, Brad hates another movie everyone likes. Shocker!

  2. Adam
    June 25th, 2009 | 8:18 pm | #2

    Trying to find Dead Snow on IFC and IFC On Demand. Not having any luck!

  3. June 25th, 2009 | 10:22 pm | #3

    Sorry, Adam, I can’t check for sure because the new house doesn’t get IFC On-Demand (wtfux, U-verse!?), but I think it should be up according to the IFC site.

    Try checking in the normal (and non-HD) pay on-demand menus and see if it shows up there.

  4. June 26th, 2009 | 2:56 pm | #4

    I will post back what I find. I have Verizon FiOS.

  5. June 30th, 2009 | 12:02 pm | #5

    Nope, nothing I could find.

  6. Amy
    July 7th, 2009 | 10:39 pm | #6

    I am a huge fan of a film you didn’t mention that is currently available through IFC On Demand – (and it also happens to be IFC On Demand’s highest selling movie – ever!) – DARK MIRROR – I highly recommend!

    (also, as a note, (to Adam) unfortunately IFC On Demand isn’t yet available on Verizon Fios)

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