Monday, 11 July 2011

After.Life (2009)

I've been waiting ages to see this one. For a while now, After.Life has been one of those films I just never seem to get around to watching, but thanks to a couple of spare quid and an eBay account, I now own a copy and have given it a first viewing. I must say that, unlike a lot of people, I rather enjoyed it.

The film seems to have divided viewers in three ways. There are those that love it, those that hate it, and those that just didn't get it. I'm erring on the side of loving it, but not completely. I absolutely adore the premise, but the execution isn't perfect, thanks to a pacing issue here and there. On the whole though, it's well worth 95 minutes of your time if you like your horror to have a brain, as well as a cast that can actually act.

Toplined by Liam Neeson, Christina Ricci and Justin Long, After.Life tells the story of Anna (Ricci), a woman who is apparently killed in a car accident. She awakens on a slab, with funeral home director and all-round Creepy Bastard Eliot (Neeson) about to start preparing her for her own funeral! Thus begins a twisted psychological horror story with some seriously dark moments, plot twists, surprising amounts of nudity, inventive effects, an incredible atmosphere and lots of close-ups of Justin Long's nose (eh?).

There are times during After.Life where it feels as though you're watching a Guillermo Del Toro film, or a Shyalaman film that doesn't suck. The ambiguity of the ending and the differing states of consciousness during the movie all work in its favour, but it may be a little too cerebral and demanding for some viewers to deal with. I don't mean that in a derogatory sense, more the point that a lot of people may find it doesn't hold their attention as much as louder, more brash films do.

Personally I really liked the film, and was impressed with both Christina Ricci's chilling portrayal of a woman going rapidly insane due to her bizarre circumstances, and the wonderfully unnerving performance from Liam Neeson, who is able to cram so much expression into every line and every facial movement that he is as much a delight to watch in After.Life as anything else he has been in.

After.Life won't give you the answer to the riddle of what lies beyond death, but it will make you think, and provide you with a twisted psychological horror movie that won't have its powers dulled by time thanks to a timeless setting and execution. It does have its issues, such as a twist too many here and there and a middle act that goes on a little too long, but it's well made, well played, and well worth a look.

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