Death After Dusk Image

Death After Dusk

By Bobby LePire | June 23, 2024

Death After Dusk is a western thriller with a slasher set-up. Writer/director Chandler Balli and co-writer Travis Lee Prine start the film with a lady wandering the desolate streets of Buck Creek to the bar where her sister, Sarah (Katerina Townsend), works. Shortly after she gets there, a mysterious man with a sack over his head enters and strikes up a conversation. He then follows her out of the bar and kills her. Similar tragic events happen several nights in a row.

Sheriff William (Sammy Wilson) calls in nine bounty hunters to deal with the problem. Whichever one of them finds the killer or killers first will be handsomely paid. The killers-for-hire include Skinny (Balli), his partner Short (Addison Chapman), Mad Dog Matt (Kelly Kidd), Thomas (Joseph Baire), G.K. (Aaron Vargas), Jed (Prine), Blink (Alana Phillips), Brass Parker (Gary Metivier), and Billy (Daniel Douglas). Can these skilled marksmen and trackers find the killer? Is one of them the killer and casting doubt upon others to get away scot-free?

Death After Dusk is a hefty 140-minutes long. That’s only 15 or so minutes shorter than Dune: Part One. As such, there are a few repetitive moments as the bounty hunters show up at Buck Creek. There’s also a more modern bookend, taking place in 1964 or 1965. While it adds a particular impact to the end, these scenes are largely unnecessary and contribute very little to the main story. Plus, given the sheer roster of bounty hunters, it is a little disappointing that the only characters with much going on are Skinny, Short, and Mad Dog. Everyone else gets a small backstory explained here or there, but nothing that really adds to their motivation or the plot.

Can these skilled marksmen and trackers find the killer?”

With that being said, there’s a lot to enjoy here. While the lighting and film quality give away the $10,000 budget, the cinematography is top-notch. The town looks and feels like it’s directly from the wild frontier of 1899. The camera peeking around the corner of a building at night feels ominous. A pull-in to the characters on the streets at night looking for the killer adds a sense of danger. Finally, the various shootouts and stand-offs are very exciting.

On top of that, the cast of Death After Dusk is terrific. Townsend makes the desire to avenge her sister relatable. Balli and Chapman share fantastic chemistry and carry much of the dramatic heft on their very capable shoulders. Kidd is fun and despicable at the same time. Phillips feels like a true badass, even if her character doesn’t have much to do. Vargas gets a scene to show off nicely.

Death After Dusk feels its 2-hour and 20-minute runtime in place. Plus, its limited means is noticeable in a few ways. But the cast is great, and the sense of danger is very real. The big reveal of the killer, which leads to double-crosses and more plot threads getting entangled, makes sense but is hard to figure out. The cinematography is brilliant, adding a genuine sense of time and place to the amazing set and production design.

For more information, visit the official Death After Dusk site.

Death After Dusk (2024)

Directed: Chandler Balli

Written: Chandler Balli, Travis Lee Prine

Starring: Chandler Balli, Addison Chapman, Kelly Kidd, Katerina Townsend, Sammy Wilsom, Travis Lee Prine, Joseph Baire, Aaron Vargas, Alana Phillips, Gary Metivier, Daniel Douglas, etc.

Movie score: 7.5/10

Death After Dusk Image

"…amazing set and production design."

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