After Midnight Ending Explained

After Midnight Ending Explained

Welcome to Knockout Horror and to another Horror Movie Ending Explained. I have really been slacking on the Ending Explained front. There have been so many movies to cover with reviews. This section has found itself a little on the back burner. I have a couple to offer over the next few days though. The first of which is for Horror Romance After Midnight.

This is a pretty straight forward movie. Still, there are a few intriguing plot elements that are worth exploring deeper. We will recap what happened before explaining the ending. I think there is a slight hint at a metaphorical meaning to the events of the movie. I will go into that a little as well.

Naturally this article would be impossible without spoilers. If you haven’t watched the movie yet, stop reading right now. Check out our review of After Midnight first. We enjoyed the movie a fair bit and actually covered it for Valentine’s Day 2023. Watch the movie and come back to this article. Now, on with the recap.

After Midnight – A Recap

So After Midnight features two main characters – Hank and Abby. Hank is a hunter who enjoys living rurally in his old dilapidated house. Abby is a city girl who enjoys arts and culture. A keen fan of wine, she wants to own a vineyard and produce her own. We kick things off in After Midnight witnessing scenes from Hank and Abby’s past. The pair were, apparently, very in love. Hank invites Abby to his rustic old home. They spend time together and we see Hank going down on…… We see Hank and Abby being intimate together. We then fast forward to the current day.

Things are not going so well for Hank anymore. Abby has left him alone with no word on where she has gone. She left a simple note saying “I have to go away for awhile.”. Abby was tired of Hank refusing to commit to her. She has given up a lot to be with him. Yet he refuses to get married or to have children. Hank now sits alone drinking on his couch. Ever since Abby left. Each night a creature appears at his door and torments him.

Hank attempts to shoot it blowing a hole in his front door. We, again, see more flashbacks to happier times for Hank. Him and Abby spend time together drinking “Peanut Noir” wine. A play on Pinot Noir and a recurring theme throughout the movie as Hank has boxes of the stuff. Abby finds Hank’s old mixtape he made for a former girlfriend. It apparently features one song played on repeat. We learn, later on, that this song is Lisa Loeb’s Stay (I Missed You).

After Midnight – Hank Can’t Cope Without Abby

We quickly learn that Hank is falling apart. He can’t manage the bills for the bar that the pair own. He is frustrated by people and short on patience. Hank is carrying a shotgun around his property due to the monster’s presence. When checking his mail, he shoots randomly at someone who nearly runs him over. This prompts a visit from Abby’s police officer brother Shane. We learn from Shane that Hank hasn’t been at work. We also learn that nobody believes Hank when he talks about the monster.

After Midnight Ending Explained

The rest of the movie features a recurring theme. Hank gets drunk during the day. During the night the monster haunts his door. He attempts to trap it which doesn’t work. The monster enters the house when Hank is out. It also kills the cat that Hank bought for Abby. Hank and his friend Wade spend some time hunting the monster with no luck. Wade believes it could potentially be an alien but Hank is doubtful. Eventually accepting that Abby is, maybe, never coming back. Hank mounts the trophy head of a buck he shot. Something that Abby absolutely hated and wouldn’t allow Hank to mount.

After Midnight – Horror Romance Revelations

The story really opens up and reveals its true intentions when Abby finally returns. All of a sudden, what seemed like a fairly decent horror movie takes off its mask revealing a romance movie. The pair sit in front of the door waiting for the monster to appear. Abby, not believing Hank’s claims, challenges him to prove it actually exists. She tells him that he is a hunter so why not kill the monster. With this in mind, Hank decides to stay up with the doors open and his shotgun to hand. Abby sits with him and the pair talk about their problems.

After Midnight Ending Explained

Hank jokes telling Abby that he is not sure that she isn’t the monster. This is said in jest but actually hints at the potential metaphorical meaning of the monster. We learn that Abby left to go to her college reunion. Hank worries that she was spending time with her ex boyfriend. This turns out to not be true. She had told Hank she wanted to go to the reunion. She had invited him but he refused. Hank seemingly has something of an inferiority complex. He didn’t want to have to dress up and interact with her old friends just to be looked down on. Hank remarks that that accounts for about 9 hours. What about the rest of the time?

After Midnight – How Long Was Abby Gone?

We learn that Abby was gone for four weeks. While at her reunion, she noticed her ex-boyfriend had a wife and children. This brought to the front of her mind thoughts she had been having for a long time. Abby felt as though she was getting older and was stuck in a rut. She didn’t want to live in the countryside. She didn’t enjoy rural life and country music and was sick of the food. Abby wanted to experience arts, culture and another way of living.

After Midnight Ending Explained

She realised that she was giving up all of these things for Hank. She was living in the countryside, a place she hates, and sacrificing her loves. When she originally came back from college all those years ago. She wasn’t even going to stay, she was simply visiting family. She only chose to stay because she met Hank and fell in love.

After Midnight – Why Did Abby Leave?

She left due to her lack of satisfaction with the relationship. While she was gone she spent time in Miami, Florida. She experienced different foods like curry and sushi. Went to a baseball game and a jazz show. Spent time in museums and drank wines she couldn’t pronounce. She explains that she is getting older and giving up all of these things that she would love to experience. Purely to be with someone who won’t even commit to marrying her.

Hank, apparently, used to look at her like he worshiped her. He now barely looks at her at all. Abby worries that Hank is attracted to other women and not interested in her anymore. All while she is giving up everything she ever loved to be with him. Abby wonders what his intentions are with the relationship. She thinks he is a hunter and likely enjoyed the pursuit. Now they have been together a long time, he is bored. Hank denies this.

Abby reminds Hank that they aren’t married and that is something she cares about. She never thought it would bother her but now it does. Abby asks him how he would feel to live in a one bedroom, city, apartment to accommodate the life she wants to live. She imagines he would despise it but she is doing that very thing to accommodate him. The monster is clearly not showing up so Abby heads to bed.

After Midnight – Hank Tries to Make Amends

The next day Abby, Hank and their friends gather for Abby’s birthday. They sing karaoke and have dinner. Incidentally, a few of the karaoke songs have some relevance here. Shane sings House of the Rising Sun. A song used in Justin Benson’s movie The Endless. Shane is played by Justin Benson. Wade sings Rock Plaza Central’sAnthem From the Already Defeated“. A song that appeared in Jeremy Gardner’s earlier movie The Battery. Gardner is the writer and director of After Midnight and also plays Hank.

After Midnight Ending Explained

While together, Shane points out the absurdity of Hank’s claims about the monster. He reminds Hank that they should be family now. That he and Abby should be married. Hank admits that he has been an asshole. He admits that they should have been family by now. He disagrees with Shane, though, and tells him the monster is definitely real.

After Midnight – Just Plain Awkward

We are then subject to a really awkward scene. Hank grabs the mixtape alluded to earlier and puts it in the karaoke machine. He dedicates the next song to Abby and the girl he made the mixtape for. He then sings the entirety of Lisa Loeb’s Stay (I Missed You). Anyone who grew up in the 90s will remember this song. It was, literally, everywhere and a massive sleeper hit. Now, all of a sudden, it is appearing in horror movies. It’s like a meme that I somehow missed.

This very same thing happened in Homewrecker and was equally as toe curling. What is the deal with horror movies featuring full renditions of this song? Did a horror distributor buy the rights or something? Are they demanding it appears as part of distribution contracts? It’s so weird and painfully awkward. It is the entire song for fuck’s sake. The entire song. I hated this scene and seriously considered dropping a point from the movie’s rating for it. The way everyone at the table awkwardly watches is almost physically painful. Gah!

After Midnight – Hank Proposes to Abby

The song ends and Hank is shockingly attacked by the monster. Hank manages to create some space between himself and the monster. He pulls the antlers off of the trophy buck mounted on his wall. Something that is symbolically significant. Hank then proceeds to viciously murder the monster using the antlers. The group watch on in shock as blood sprays everywhere.

After Midnight Ending Explained

When the monster is dead. Hank takes the bottle of Peanut Noir that Abby is clutching. He asks her if she wants to drink another case of this shit with him. Flipping it upside down and holding it up to her. It is apparent that there is an engagement ring in the bottom of the bottle. Hank had listened to what Abby had said the night before. Realising that he had taken her for granted. Hank had planned an elaborate proposal for her birthday party. He was finally ready to give Abby the commitment she had always desired. The monster just happened to interrupt before he could actually propose.

After Midnight – A Metaphorical Monster

So, in summary, Abby left because of Hank’s lack of commitment. She felt her life was going nowhere. Hank understood, realised he had taken her for granted and proposed to her. Once he had killed the monster, of course. So the monster was real but it is, also, somewhat metaphorical. When Abby left, the monster began appearing. It is safe to assume that the monster was a manifestation of Hank’s personal issues. His lack of commitment and his neglect of Abby caused her to leave.

When she was gone, he was haunted by the things he had done wrong. He couldn’t cope and was turning to alcohol to drown the pain. The memories of happier times tormented him at night when he was alone. Hank couldn’t kill the monster just like he couldn’t fix the things he had done wrong. He couldn’t repair his relationship until Abby returned. He realised that Abby was the only thing he wanted. She kept his demons away and made him the person he was. Without her, he would be haunted every night and unable to cope with normal life.

When Abby finally returns. Hank realises what he needs to do. He needs to change and not be so self obsessed. He admits his wrongs and proposes to her. Him killing the monster with the antlers of the trophy buck. Something that Abby hated. Is symbolic of him destroying the things in his life that didn’t matter to him anymore. He was willing to push the things he loves aside to make Abby happy. Just like she did for him. Relationships are all about compromise, at the end of the day.

After Midnight – And That, is That!

So that’s that. The monster was both real and symbolic of Hank’s fear of relationship commitment. It appeared when Abby left and was killed when Hank was ready to commit. Thanks for reading. I enjoyed this film, despite it being more of a romance than a horror. If you enjoyed this article, why not stick around? I review horror movies, explain horror movie endings and have started writing horror lists. I update almost every day of the week so check back frequently.