Director: Douglas Heyes
Writer: Rod Serling
Cast: Anne Francis, Elizabeth Allen, James Millhollin, John Conwell, Patrick Whyte, and Nancy Rennick
Composer: None (Stock Music)
Air Date: 6/10/1960
Production Code: 173-3637
During her search for a gold thimble, a woman named Marsha White (Anne Francis) travels to the mysterious ninth floor of a department store. Though the level appears to be abandoned, a lone saleswoman (Elizabeth Allen) provides Marsha with the item she seeks. However, when Marsha arrives at the complaints department to report a defect, the same sales clerk shows up in the form of a mannequin.
While this episode’s sluggish pacing and lack of a substantial plot may deter viewers with limited attention spans, many fans of The Twilight Zone are bound to appreciate “The After Hours” for its haunting execution. Likewise, Rod Serling’s unnerving narrative and subsequent twist ending will satisfy audiences who enjoy commentary on the fundamental aspects of human existence.
Despite the fact that Marsha initially comes across as somewhat whiny and demanding during her interactions with department staff members, Anne Francis’ character later elicits sympathy through her realistic reactions to a nightmarish scenario. Feelings of isolation and confinement compound over time as the protagonist finds herself trapped, alone, and surrounded by the lifeless faces of those she encountered throughout her daytime shopping trip. Overall, the late actress sufficiently enhanced Serling’s chilling atmosphere with her nuanced portrayal of the fragile Ms. White.
None, barring the aforementioned pacing issues.
(Spoilers beyond this point)
Through its simple but effective premise, “The After Hours” offers a thought-provoking analysis on our consumerist society and its damaging effects on most people. As an animated mannequin, Marsha accurately represents the average individual living in Western civilization. Though this character is driven by an innate desire to spend her wealth on material possessions, her life ultimately lacks the direction or depth of a truly enlightened person. Similarly, many humans attempt to fill their inner voids with tangible comforts, yet fail to strive for true greatness and instead wind up with the same shallow, one-dimensional personalities as do the mannequins in this episode.
“The After Hours” suffers from a slow start, but benefits from solid performances and a spooky setting. The Twilight Zone enthusiasts will admire this classic installment for Serling’s harrowing insights into the human condition, while horror fans may also wish to view this entry for its creepy elements.
Overall Quality: 10/10
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