Did you ever see a movie that might have been pretty good, but it reminded you so much of other things that you just couldn’t keep your concentration on the film at hand? That was my experience with the After Dark original film Seconds Apart. At almost every turn I couldn’t help thinking of other films. Often times it was such a distraction that I’m afraid I never fully appreciated the one I was watching. And, there is a lot to like about Seconds Apart.
The story is pretty simple. Jonah and Seth, played by real-life twins Edmund and Gary Entin, are not your normal twins. They share more than an uncanny fraternal link. Together they can enter inside of a person’s mind and cause them to do all sorts of nasty things that usually end in the victim’s death. The hold hands to focus the power. It might just be me showing my age here, but I couldn’t stop thinking about the 1970’s Saturday morning cartoon, The Super Friends. The show featured the powerhouse members of the DC comics universe along with a boy and girl known as The Wonder Twins. One could take the shape of anything made out of water, while the other could become any animal. Every time these guys held hands to perform their evil deeds in someone’s mind, I couldn’t get that Wonder Twins image out of my head, and I kept expecting them to chant: “Wonder Twins power activate”. Silly, I know and it’s entirely possible that no one connected with the film was even aware of the image. So the fault is entirely mine, to a degree.
Then there was a Fringe episode just last season that involved a boy who did pretty much the same things these kids did. I also had flashbacks to the ultimate twins horror film Dead Ringers. That’s a ton of baggage for a small-budget film to have to carry around. It was enough to take away my focus. If the film had had a strong visual style, it would have been easy to stay in the moment. Unfortunately, the style is quite odd and is as distracting as the references. It’s almost as though director Antonio Negret didn’t quite know where he wanted the camera. The script is far from inspiring, and the pace was entirely too slow.
So why did I say there was a lot to like here, you might ask. Well…go ahead…ask. The performances are really compelling. The Entin brothers do remarkable work here. Naturally, they share a certain amount of chemistry, but it’s much more than that. They can go from absolute deadpan to complex emotion in no time at all. Then there is Samantha Droke as the girl who comes between the boys. She truly shines as a fresh spark against the brothers and their own performances. She has the ability to be tough and independent while also sharing a great amount of vulnerability. It’s a complicated role and an excellent performance by the young actress. Of course, Orlando Jones is the name here and he is also quite impressive as Detective Lampkin, who ends up on the trail of the boys while investigating the strange string of suicides. He’s not just a case of a name actor phoning a quickie in for a paycheck just to lend his name to the production. Lampkin is struggling with his own internal issues. He doesn’t need any help from our wonder twins to get caught up in nightmares. He’s suffering guilt from a fire that took his family and left him scarred both emotionally and physically. Jones delivers the pathos along with the requisite cop who might find out the truth.
Writer George Richards certainly didn’t deliver a tight script, but with the help of an excellent casting director he did provide wonderful characters to populate his story. Give director Negret credit for knowing how to use his on-camera talent. This is what turns an average movie with nothing particularly new to add into something I think you’ll find worth checking out.
Seconds Apart is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1. This is another very dark film that just doesn’t allow a lot of light to touch anything even in daylight. The picture ends up looking somewhat soft with washed-out colors and a pale nature about everything. Black levels are fair, but the image itself doesn’t offer much hope in the department of shadow definition. The print is clean, however, and most of these nuances are intentional choices.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 track is just as soft. Don’t expect an aggressive mix here. There’s a lot of silence to contend with at times. Dialog comes through, but you just won’t find anything extraordinary about this audio presentation.
Only a soft commentary.
This is the second of the After Dark originals out from Lionsgate this month that I’ve gotten to check out. The discs are relatively inexpensive and a pretty solid treat in the rental arena. There aren’t enough studios willing to put this kind of time and effort into low-budget horror films. “That’s a crime.”