- Ghosts of Empire Prairie (2013) Review

Title: The Late Men

Also known as:

Year: 2013

Genre: Independent / Crime / Thriller / Sci-fi

Language: English

Runtime: 83 min

Director: Van Poynton

Writer: Van Poynton & Matthew J. Keats


In a run-down future Ireland, the lives of several individuals are changing. It's a time where rape, murder and senselessness is followed more closely than the laws of the past. The darker sides of humanity has revealed themselves as we follow the personal stories of the three.

Our thoughts:
Ireland, we love you. You are putting every other country to shame with your mass-production of evocative stories in independent film. I'm not saying "mass-production" as a bad thing, but there is a surprisingly large number of genius works of art coming from the small country. "The Late Men" is one that stands out, but is very much part of the Irish New Wave as something scarcely seen. Originally written as a crime thriller, but re-worked after the realization where the real world is heading, into a post-apocalyptic nightmare.

We're following the stories of a few individuals as they go through big changes in their lives - emotionally and psychologically. Violence is the everyday life in this destructive future, but no physical pain can beat psychological torment. This is the story of a son who has to say goodbye to his father, a father's attempt to set things right, and a man's realization of what's being kept in the darkness. It's a story of a corrupt world and we witness the most corrupt part of it in the world of crime.

The story of "The Late Men" might very well be a solid one, but in a movie that is so captivating on a atmospheric and characteristic level it slowly hides itself in the back. I believe that the stylish, monochrome nature of the movie sometimes distracts the storytelling. This was a bit of a problem for me. I have no problem with dreary with visuals that reflect it, but "The Late Men" is told in such a way that you'd probably need to watch it a few times to truly get a sense of what is happening. That might not be a bad thing, but it's certainly noteworthy.

The movie does shine in many departments though. The style of the movie is completely feverish. Combined with a post-apocalyptic world that seems real. Unlike most fantasy post-apocalyptic films this world is more similar to a country in war than a fantasty tale. To me that makes sense. And it actually makes this future scary, since it could actually happen (and I believe the filmmakers are afraid of this as well). Once you get into the atmosphere of "The Late Men" then you are very likely to be sucked in like a drone to a command.

There are moments of "The Late Man" that are strokes of brilliance, but I won't deny that it had me scratching my head at certain moments as well. The story was hard to get into with how they decided to portray it. As the movie is inspired by a number of movies, I think their inspiration of recent Irish horror "Tin Can Man" is one that shows the strongest in the black and white imagery, but it managed to distract me at times. Despite me being a huge fan of black and white movies, photography and art in general. I guess it's a matter of how it is used. "The Late Man" uses it well for atmosphere and cinematography, but it distracts the story somewhat. In the end, "The Late Man" is an interesting mixture of genres, portrayed in a way that makes it feel like modern independent film meets European arthouse. It's a little uneven but I believe it could grow upon rewatches.

Positive things:
- Solid atmosphere and cinematography.
- Excellent opening sequence.
- A realistic post-apocalyptic future.

Negative things:
- The black and white visuals sort of made it harder to get into the story over the style.
- Probably needs to be rewatched to be fully appreciated.

Gore: 1.5/5
Nudity: 0/5
Story: 3/5
Effects: 3/5
Comedy: 0.5/5

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