IFC’s Pushing Twilight is about “a group of disenchanted twenty-somethings” who gather in odd meetings and are given missions designed as an “outlet for their unfulfilled urges.”

They’re instructed to complete tasks like playing high-stakes blackjack with an intense Australian doing a Robert Redford impersonation, stripping for a superficial rich guy or killing a cat, cooking it and feeding it to a Times food critic – that kind of thing. A group shock therapy session in with what feels like a late night Skinemax movie without the skin. 

The entire seven-episode series is up now on IFC.com.  It’s worth checking out.

The series originated from a contest sponsored by Red Bull and IFC’s Media Labs (“an independent film studio focusing on web and on-air content development and financing“), that called upon amateur filmmakers to take the concept of “after hours” and run with it. Director Steve Sprinkles and screenwriter Stu Chait won the contest and have definitely done the concept justice (though no reports if they’ve actually grown wings). The dark episodes clock in around six minutes and, despite their length, have a good sense of timing that makes you want to keep watching.

There’s also at least one genuinely tense scene in each installment, which is no easy task when you’re making a web show.

But Twilight is not perfect by any means. It’s unclear why the goateed therapist/leader (played by veteran actor D.C. Douglas) has such a hold over his minions. The Red Bull product placement in episode four is extremely heavy-handed. The final episode brings a bunch of twists to the plot that take away from the existing drama, instead of adding to it. And, killing and eating cats? Really? Who wants to watch that?

My biggest complaint about the show (and I suppose my biggest praise) is that it could have easily been longer. These edgy after-hour challenges work very well on the Internet. I’m assuming there was some sort of time limit set on the contest by IFC/Red Bull, but a series with this premise could’ve been stretched out to several weeks worth of programming, confronting new and different fears and phobias with sci-fi/horror/thriller-inspired cathartic adventures.

The plot and why these people are doing the tasks aren’t really important when you get to see a cute heavy metal singer digging up graves.  That’s just fun to watch.

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