Directed by Antonio Negret
Distributed by Lionsgate
Perhaps it fell victim to expectations, but Seconds Apart doesn’t quite work as well as it might’ve. Despite strong performances all around and some taut direction by Antonio Negret, there’s a repetition to the narrative that makes it a chore to see through to the finish. Lots of people raved about this above average entry in the continued After Dark debacle, and it’s not hard to see why considering it is, at least, competently made. Although that’s hardly a reason to chalk this up as anything other than an interesting failure.
Opening with the mass suicide of a bunch of drunken high school kids, a police detective (Orlando Jones) immediately casts his suspicion on a pair of cold and calculating creepy twins. These guys have a knack for manipulating their victims into killing themselves in all sorts of ghastly ways. Their intention? To experience the emotion of fear. The only problem is that Jones has his own emotional baggage in the guise of his dead wife, which makes him all kinds of vulnerable to these little psychopaths.
That’s the story, and Seconds Apart would’ve done well to offer a bit more of it. By the end of the first act, we know exactly where things are heading. Our hero cop comes to suspect the twins almost at first glance, robbing the story of some great cat and mouse potential, and the repeated mentions of his dearly departed wife hammer home the expectation of that being used against him at some point. There’s also a hackneyed romance between one of the twins and a female classmate, which, as expected, creates some real strife between our villains.
Despite the familiarity of the film, it manages some successful moments of tension and also creates a main character that we actually give a damn about. The biggest surprise is how the former 7UP guy acquaints himself to dramatic material. Orlando Jones is appropriately anguished in a way that drums up audience sympathy while serving as the flawed hero. As we’re privy to his emotional baggage, it succeeds in generating some suspense when the third act finally kicks in. And while Jones is quite good, it’s the villainous twin actors Edmond and Gary Entin that really steal the show. Similar to the way in which Isabelle Fuhrman made audiences seethe with anger in the brilliantly underrated Orphan, the Entin twins are effectively (and infuriatingly) unfeeling. It’s impossible to not want to see their heads taken off with a few shotgun blasts.
But the middle sinks – leaving audiences with a story biding its time until it can move forward into a somewhat successful (if familiar) final act. Similar to The Nameless and Martyrs, Seconds Apart features antagonists in desperate search of something elusive, and the measures they take to find it manages a chill or two. It’s just a little too late by then.
This isn’t a bad film, simply an uneven one. As it stands, it’s certainly among the best of After Dark’s offerings, although it remains a largely forgettable experience. One that hints at better things to come for director Antonio Negret – as soon as he can find a script worth directing.
Lionsgate brings Seconds Apart to DVD in a solid 1.78:1 transfer with strong colors, nice depth and some surprisingly strong black levels. The limitations of DVD are crystal clear on 1080p displays, but this is one transfer that holds up under the scrutiny. And on the audio front, the 5.1 surround works fairly well, too. Here’s a film with some real jolts, and the sound design is set up in a way intended to provoke a reaction from its audience. This track gets the job done with good separation of ambient sounds and music, while vocals are always front, center and clear. This isn’t demo material by any stretch, but it is an enveloping auditory experience.
Director and actor commentary is the sole extra offered here. Director Negret is joined by the Entin twins for an engaging little chat. Lots of nice chemistry among the three participants gives way to a delightful listen. Fans of the movie will almost certainly like this.
I wanted to like Seconds Apart more although it never quite surprised me or engaged me completely. It’s a mean-spirited horror film that works despite numerous flaws. Good performances carry it through the lulls; just don’t be surprised if you figure out where it’s all headed before the main characters do.
2 1/2 out of 5
2 1/2 out of 5
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