Video Film Review
Rated R ( ALot Of nudity)
After Life ( 2009) a film by Agnieszka Wojtowicz-Vosloo is available for video rental and it may be the perfect choice for a Halloween sleepover but only if you are an adult at least 18 due to the R rating.
Actually this flick feeds on the very adult fear of losing the ability to enjoy life as well as being buried alive. So it is both a physical and psychological death and if you enjoy artsy film fare this is the movie for you!
Christina Ricci stars in her usual role of dark disturbed victim ( Anna Taylor) who is having a bout of restless depression that puzzles her handsome boyfriend ( Paul Coleman) Justin Long.
I should add that Ricci does spend at least half of the film nude or in various states of undress.
Her steady job as a fourth grade teacher does not seem to satisfy her.
One night as she leaves school the lights flicker and one of her stranger pupils is left all alone at school.
The creepy child ( Jack) Chandler Canterberry reminds us of the classic horror film ” Sixth Sense” and he is the mascot for dead children in this film I would imagine although I could never really understand his real significance.
You begin to wonder what is real and what is fantasy.
Afterlife has a nice little opening which sets up the premise that Anna may be buried alive after crashing her car and being transported to the mortician–the inscrutable (Elliot Deacon) Liam Neeson.
Neeson is suitably repressed, nattily dressed and a little bit odd as the role requires him to be.
The first part of the movie is cool and rather startling as the suspense builds to the moment when Deacon undresses Anna. She is alive and talking while Deacon communicates with her telepathically. Anna is attempting to overcome rigor mortis or some kind of sedative perhaps?
Deacon is sewing up her injuries making her pretty as she is fixed to the cold slab in a red slip.
The set up is marvelous and the photography exquisite but as Deacon and Anna negotiate the transition to her next state of existence things just begin to drag.
A terrific moment when Anna tries to get up and use the phone is inspired. Several other scenes when Anna is forced to deal with another undead client are appropriately eerie.
But even as Anna attempts to kill the mortician with a knife, the pace is just too deadly ( excuse the pun) to allow the premise any traction.
So eventually, you just lose any connection to the story and the ending is slightly predictable.
Obviously, this trio of marvelous actors ( Ricci, Neeson, Long) attempt to milk every emotion possible but the atmosphere has a strange apathy which sucks all energy from the actors and even the moment when Ricci sees her breath in a mirror just do not have the dramatic impact we might expect from them.
Perhaps in her attempt to prove her theme (most people live their lives in a dead state ) writer/director Agnieszka Wojtowicz-Vosloo is just a little too successful.
We all feel kind of exhausted and bored after Long and Ricci are finally reunited.
This idea might have realized better in the hands of a veteran horror director but here the lovely images are just too static and the script unrelentingly similar in tone.
Maybe Agnieszka Wojtowicz-Vosloo should have watched the chainsaw horror franchise as well as Carnival of Souls.
For a night of popcorn this is just fine and may lull you to sleep sooner than expected.