“After Hours” (2016): Whodunnit Horror Short Delves into Truly Unexpected Territory


A puzzling murder at a store that has closed for the night leads a detective down a dark path in director Michael Aguiar’s After Hours. Fine performances from a cast led by the always reliable Bill Oberst Jr. highlight this  effective short film.

Lauren Deakin (Dana Mauro) is in the shop where she works after closing, and she correctly surmises that she is not alone. As she makes for an elevator, she meets with sudden demise. Her boss Louise (Tracy Heathcote Decresie) discovers her body the next day and contacts Detective Harris (Bill Oberst Jr.), who is familiar with the victim. Any more plot summary would take us into the land of spoilers.

Bill Oberst Jr. stars as a detective trying to track down a murderer in After Hours. Photo credit: Amy McMullen

Michael Aguiar helms this whodunnit horror well. A patch at one point that is meant to show time passing slows things down a bit but I can’t blame the director, who also edited, for wanting to keep footage with Bill Oberst Jr. in the short. The stalwart genre-film veteran is always a treat to watch, and the supporting actors give solid turns here, too, including Gabriel Lee, who appeared in Aguiar’s feature-length film The Laughing Mask (2014), as Deputy Cordova.

Adam Weber’s screenplay keeps things running tautly except perhaps for the time-passing sequence that I mentioned before. William Schweikert’s cinematography helps keep edge-of-your-seat suspense throughout, as does Christopher Schmitt’s original score, which alternates between piano-and-strings and dramatic synthesizer.

Gabriel Lee co-stars as a policeman assisting with the investigation. Photo credit: Amy McMullen

After Hours is just kicking off its film festival run and is well worth keeping an eye out for. Updates about screenings and other information can be found at facebook.com/afterhoursshort.

After Hours: 3.5 out of 5 stars (3.5 / 5)

Joseph Perry
Joseph Perry fell in love with horror films as a preschooler when he first saw the Gill-Man swim across the TV screen in "The Creature from The Black Lagoon" and Mothra battle Godzilla in "Godzilla Vs. The Thing.” His education in fright fare continued with TV series such as "The Twilight Zone" and "Outer Limits," along with legendary northern California horror host Bob Wilkins’ "Creature Features." His love for silver age and golden age comic books, including horror titles from Gold Key, Dell, and Marvel started around age 5.

He is a contributing writer for the "Phantom of the Movies VideoScope" and “Drive-In Asylum” print magazines and the websites Horror Fuel, Diabolique Magazine, The Scariest Things, B&S About Movies, and When It Was Cool. He is a co-host of the "Uphill Both Ways" pop culture nostalgia podcast and also writes for its website. Joseph occasionally proudly co-writes articles with his son Cohen Perry, who is a film critic in his own right.

A former northern Californian and Oregonian, Joseph has been teaching, writing, and living in South Korea since 2008.