Mr. Zimit, a philosophy teacher at an international school in Jakarta, has been challenging his class of twenty with thought exercises to prepare them for their future. On the last day of school, he holds an exercise in which he posits an oncoming atomic apocalypse. There is a bunker to shelter them for a year, but it only has supplies for ten people, so his students have to decide who of them should be allowed in. The top student, Petra, initially refuses to participate, but Zimit threatens to lower her boyfriend James' academic score if she does not.
Zimit distributes cards that contain a detail about the students' characters in the exercise: James is an organic farmer and Petra is an engineer. The students defend their right to enter the shelter, then there's a group vote after discussion. Students with skills judged useful for survival are allowed in, such as James and Petra, while those who don't are refused, such as Beatrice, a fashion designer. Zimit is part of the exercise but his skills are hidden. At first the students agree to let him in, but Zimit executes the students who have been rejected, claiming that it is more humane than letting them die by radiation. The remaining students race into the bunker before the explosion, locking out Zimit. Outside, Zimit holds up a card saying that only he has the exit code. After living out the year in the bunker, the survivors discover that the exit code is necessary. All attempts of breaking out of the bunker are futile, and after supplies run out they commit group suicide.
They decide to try the exercise again. The cards given earlier are revealed to contain a secondary detail that change the votes, e.g. Georgina, who was allowed in earlier because of her status as a surgeon, now has possibly contracted the Ebola virus and is rejected. Petra and James are still voted in despite James' additional character detail of being gay. Zimit and the chosen students enter the bunker, and agree to start procreating immediately. Various heterosexual pairs get together, but as James is gay in this exercise, Petra has to sleep with Zimit. After ten weeks there are no pregnancies, and Zimit argues that they need to change partners. When Bonnie, a soldier with eidetic memory, refuses, Zimit threatens her with a gun. Jack stabs Zimit, who responds by opening the doors and killing everyone. James questions Zimit's motives for the exercise, asking why he seems intent on punishing them. After checking the box with the cards, James discovers that his and Petra's were fixed, though Zimit refuses to explain his reasons.
Petra insists the exercise be carried out a third time, and asks everyone to trust her to choose who gets to enter the bunker. She picks people who are a potential risk or have non-technical skills, including an opera singer and poet, which angers Zimit. Petra herself refuses to enter the bunker, but is pushed inside when Chips switches places with her before the door closes. Zimit is outright refused entry since his exit code is no longer necessary—Bonnie remembers it from the previous iteration. Petra continues the thought exercise, explaining that the year in the bunker was enjoyable and filled with creativity. When they leave, they discover that the bombs never fell. Zimit narrates that they will die, as none of them have the technical skills to survive, but Petra counters that they will live the rest of their short lives well and welcome death when it arrives. Zimit arrives at the beach, having survived in a cave for the past year, and threatens to shoot James, but the rest of the survivors stand in front of him.
Back in class, Zimit is discomfited by the latest exercise. At the end of the session, everyone leaves except Petra, who accuses Zimit of trying to use the exercise to punish her and James. Zimit has been having an affair with Petra, and he believes James is beneath her. Petra argues that intelligence isn't all that matters. The film ends with Zimit alone in the school as he contemplates suicide.
Production began on the film in May 2011. During the press conference for the film, director John Huddles said that "multiculturalism was a major theme in the movie, which revolves around a challenge to reboot humanity in the event of a nuclear apocalypse." He also added that in the film "There will be students from Turkey, Iran, Australia, Africa, Canada, United States and United Kingdom."
Filming began on 25 June 2011 in Indonesia and continued over seven weeks in different parts of the country including Belitung Island, Sumatra, Bromo in East Java and at the Prambanan Yogyakarta and Sewu temples in Klaten, Central Java, finally ending on 18 August 2011 in Jakarta, Indonesia.
In February 2013, the first trailer for the film was released. SCTV revealed the official poster and tagline for the film on 1 June 2013.
The soundtrack was composed by Jonathan Davis and Nicholas O'Toole. The album also contains the score by Toad the Wet Sprocket's vocalist Glen Phillips.
After the Dark premiered in competition at the Neuchâtel International Fantastic Film Festival on 7 July 2013. On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a 77% rating, with an average score of 5.8/10, based on 13 reviews. On Metacritic, the film has a score of 37 out of 100, based on 7 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".
In the reviews from the festival, Out Now gave the film four out of six stars and said, "The Philosophers had a brilliant approach, with which one could not only construct a versatile, but also a hugely exciting film." Severin Auer of Groarr.ch – Filmmagazin gave it a mixed review by saying, "Although The Philosophers has a strong start, the clear weaknesses which the film has to fight can already be found towards the middle part. On the one hand, there are some—though successful—laughs, but these hurt the established seriousness of the mood and accumulate disturbingly towards the end—and the film doesn't want to be a comedy, actually. [...] The film wants to surprise but soon turns out to be sailing known water, which is the opposite it originally intended." He further added that "Nevertheless, the film is in its approach somehow refreshing and well worth seeing. Initially exciting, amusing later."
Upon its theatrical release, Frank Scheck of The Hollywood Reporter gave the film a positive review and said, "This ambitious teen-oriented fantasy is like taking a university philosophy course in The Twilight Zone." Sherilyn Connelly in her review for The Village Voice said, "[The film is] a shaggy dog story, but an intriguing and frequently beautiful one" and singularly praised Wright by saying that "the picture fumbles the ending, sliding into a Gravity-esque soapy backstory while suggesting that supporting actress Bonnie Wright might have been a stronger female lead." Nicolas Rapold of The New York Times called it "both smugly clever and at times distastefully clueless." Dennis Harvey of Variety called it "talky, tedious and carelessly implausible even by its own rulebook".