"After.Life" DVD, Blu-ray Review

8/05/2010 Posted by Admin

"After.Life" DVD, Blu-ray Review

Directed by Agnieszka Wojtowicz-Vosloo, Written by Wojtowicz-Vosloo, Paul Vosloo and Jakub Korolczuk, 104 Minutes, Rated R

By our guest blogger, Rob Stammitti

Christina Ricci is Anna Taylor, a schoolteacher struggling with emotions surrounding her inability to commit to her boyfriend Paul (Justin Long) and the health and mental issues of her mercurial mother (Celia Weston). One night after a fight, Anna seemingly gets into a car accident and wakes up in the funeral home of Eliot Deacon (Liam Neeson), a soft-spoken and highly respected funeral director who tells Anna that she has died and he has an ability that allows him to interact with the dead, which he uses to help them let go of their lives and move on. Anna refuses to believe this--if she's dead, why can she move, why can she breathe, why can she interact with objects around her?

The film revolves around this question--is Anna actually dead, or is Eliot simply a disturbed serial killer who fakes the death of his targets, emotionally tortures them until their funeral, then buries them alive?

That alone would have made a fine film, but "After.Life" (don't ask what the period's for, the title's about as silly as the movie itself) is so muddled and incomprehensible that we get elements of mystery, horror, drama and weird supernatural stuff all thrown in together, and it's all so inconsistent and poorly written that by the time all is said and done, there's no conceivable way of knowing either way what was actually going on. This isn't just ambiguity--this is incompetent writing.

Director and co-writer Agnieszka Wojtowicz-Vosloo fills every frame of the film with cliche--it's possible that there's not a single original thought in the whole thing--and the tone varies wildly from scene-to-scene to the point that one moment you'll be watching a surreal horror film and the next you're watching a melodrama about struggling with grief. None of it melds together at all, and it doesn't help that the only remotely thrilling moments in the film take place early on before the plot even picks up.

The only true stand-out of the film is Neeson, who brings so much earnestness to such a cookie-cutter role that you really start wishing he was giving it in a far better movie. He brings the perfect kind of unique, ambiguous gravity that the plot calls for, but he really goes above and beyond. It makes one wonder why Neeson doesn't play these kind of creepy baddies more often.

Ricci ironically seems to pretty much sleepwalk her way through the whole thing--lately, it feels as if her idea of good acting is going nude for a role, and while she certainly does it in spades here, that's about all she does. Justin Long is, well, he's Justin Long. Neeson may be earnest, but Long brings so much endearing dedication to these awful roles he gets plopped in that it's really starting to get sad that he's never in anything as purely purposeful as his performances.

"After.Life" isn't scary, it's not emotionally powerful, it's not even slightly unsettling--it's a series of cliches with tired imagery and a completely ridiculous plot. I wouldn't recommend to even the most ardent of horror fans.

Grade: D-

View the trailer for "After.Life" below. What are your thoughts of the movie?

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  1. Hunter said...

    Watched this last night and still thinking about it. Like it or not, the film gets under your skin. I didn't like it. I LOVED it! Best film so far this year IMHO.