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After.Life (2009)

Cult Movies and Mystery & Suspense movie released April 9, 2010

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Has an Idea; dresses her in a Satan-red dress.

  • Dec 9, 2010
Rating:
-2
"After.Life" is what could have and should have been an interesting film. The premise and set-up is nice, it has an appealing cast, and the atmosphere has the potential to be pretty creepy. So what went wrong with this supernatural thriller? Why didn't I enjoy it? The answer: it was lifeless. This first-time feature from Agnieszka Wojtowicz-Vosloo is a rather disappointing first effort, and the naivety certainly shows. How Vosloo could get the talents of Liam Neeson and Christina Ricci in such a small film is sort of beyond me, since this is obviously excluded from Hollywood's standards. However, it's still a poor film even with the talent on display. It suffers from weak twists and mostly boring dialogue, and only seems to benefit from its own ambitions as well as some pretty good cinematography scattered throughout. Vosloo builds her film like the work of an artist; using colors to play a significant role in the painting she intends to create. However, her creation is nothing special when all is said and done. It feels sloppy, and rather short-shrift. Perhaps it will satisfy those with low expectations for a film of the like, although people like me want art when we look at a film. And if not art, we want entertainment. All films have to pick either one, and special movies tend to balance both things masterfully. "After.Life" can't seem to pick either, and ends up as a rather blank, bland, and forgettable trifle. In the hands of a master, it could have been great. But alas, its reach exceeds its grasp by a long shot, and that is why it is as boring and lifeless as it is.

A teacher named Anna gets into a car-crash after having an argument with her fiancé at a dinner session. She wakes up in a morgue where the morgue director, whose name is Eliot, greets her with compassion. He tells Anna that she is dead, although she doesn't know it yet. He says that she has to accept it along the way to preparation, although Anna can still speak, walk, and feel emotional pain as a normal person one. Still, she is but a corpse being readied for her second life beyond ours. The film really doesn't do much beyond documenting what I have already described. However, there is the inclusion of a semi-creepy little boy, a grieving fiancé, and a really, really lame twist ending. This is the kind of film that no other one-trick-pony of thriller cinema will make, and that is because it is not a great idea. It is a good idea, but not a fantastic one. M. Night Shyamalan would not have made it. Not even Alfred Hitchcock, if he had been alive, would have. It's not really good enough. Instead, I'm ready to forget the experience. What can I say: I got bored pretty fast. Not up to the point where I would have walked out; since I rarely do that anyways, but the movie was poor. The best the filmmakers can do is supply us with a pretty shade of red on everything meant to be somewhat symbolic. Really, guys? You have failed me.

As with most potentially interesting movies, "After.Life" has a talented cast that is squandered by a feeling of conceptual detachment. Liam Neeson is the only actor who seems to remain himself throughout, providing me with a performance that is nothing short of the expected from the performer. And you could say that in some way, that is a good thing. Christina Ricci seems rather lifeless-which was the intention-but that does not make it right. Ricci doesn't play an actual character, as it would seem. You cannot call her character a "character", since she is but a person. She's not interesting, and aren't characters supposed to have that word attached to them when they are brought into the world? Justin Long does what he always does: play a lover. And he's getting quite used to it, from the looks of things. As with all supernatural/ghost-story films, there's a creepy little boy. In "After.Life", the somber little bundle of un-joy is played by Chandler Canterbury. I will not say that Canterbury has a promising acting career ahead of him like Haley Joel-Osment did when he performed well in "The Sixth Sense", but I will compare him in the fairest way possible to every other creepy little child I have seen in other cinematic exploits. Canterbury is just one of the less interesting ones.

There is something rather tiresome about most supernatural thrillers these days. It takes a rather special, gifted man (or woman, as the case may be) to create something good in order to spice things up. Vosloo is not the woman. Her direction never seems focused enough to be called good, and the most she can seem to do is demand her cinematographer, Anastas N. Michos, to get some interesting shots in before the day is over. And indeed, there are scenes where the cinematography is splendid. It is in these scenes where the possibility of beauty resides, although all of it is flushed out by cheesiness in about the next few seconds. With that being said, "After.Life" still looks pretty decent. The quality of the video is about average, although I can't say there's anything special about it. Vosloo consistently uses color to give the film an "art" feel, although she never hits home base with her ambitions. Sure, it's obvious WHAT she wanted to do, but she doesn't succeed in any of it. This is not an interesting movie; quite in fact it is a boring and excessive one. I felt a bit cheated when the twists came along, and frequent cheesiness didn't help at all either. When all is said and done, the atmosphere that could have worked here isn't helped at all by the fact that "After.Life" is but another potboiler amongst other horror/thrillers focusing on the super-natural. And believe me, there are better ones out there.
*1/2 out of ****

On paper, I bet "After.Life" sounded like a really great idea for a really great movie. But the truth is; the movie isn't even good, let alone great. "After.Life" could have been good, if it weren't for the lame twists and lack of ambition. It could possibly entertain some people, but not me. I'm starting to consider the importance of the opinions of others lately, and I would be curious to see what they think of "After.Life". However, I cannot possibly conclude that it is an entertaining film. I was bored after a while, and I wanted the film to end earlier than it actually did. It went on thirty minutes longer than it had to, and I say that with a whole lot of honesty. This is not a horrible film, for it actually has something going for it, but it feels more like a silly mis-hap rather than a tricky, intriguing new ghost story. The ending does not imply a sequel, and tries to let the viewer interpret the film for themselves. Please, Vosloo, that's not what I asked for. I didn't think at all in you film. Films like "Oldboy" have worked well with such an ending, but you're being terribly pretentious with such a disappointing conclusion. It's a sad day when films are this consistently bleak, but nowadays I guess we've all got to get used to it.

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December 10, 2010
Man I was hoping this would be better, nice review.
December 10, 2010
Hope is not enough in the world of modern cinema.
December 12, 2010
I watch anything with Ricci in it LOL!
December 12, 2010
Celebrity Crush?
 
1
More After.Life (2009 movie) reviews
review by . April 10, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Is Death Really the Answer For An Empty Life?
   Life after death according to co-writer/director Agnieszka Wojtowicz-Vosloo is the best way to describe this horror-psychological thriller “After.LIFE”. The film is on a limited run in San Francisco theaters so I figured I’d check it out since it had Christina Ricci (Black Snake Moan) and Liam Neeson (Taken) as its main protagonists. There are two thing that are required to be able to enjoy and understand this film; One, that human’s experience a sort of a shock/denial …
Quick Tip by . January 04, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
I couldn't stop laughing. When Christina Ricci said she didn't want to be a pale corpse ... I mean come on. I think it was meant to be an inside joke but since the story was so stupid it was pretty much all I had to hold on to.
review by . August 07, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
AFTER.LIFE (yes, that is a dot between the two words suggesting this may be a video game...or blog, or something created in cyberspace) takes a long shot; can a one-line story keep an audience's attention for over 103 minutes? Not having noticed whether this played in theaters or is one of the direct to DVD films, that question is tough to answer. The director and writer Agnieszka Wojtowicz-Vosloo (writing in tandem with Paul Vosloo and Jakub Korolczuk) asks us to suspend belief and muse about the …
About the reviewer
Ryan J. Marshall ()
Ranked #11
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … more
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About this movie

Wiki

After.Life is a psychological horror film starring Liam Neeson, Christina Ricci and Justin Long, directed by Agnieszka Wojtowicz-Vosloo from her original screenplay.

After a horrific car accident, Anna (Ricci) wakes up to find the local funeral director Eliot Deacon (Neeson) preparing her body for her funeral. Confused, terrified and feeling very much alive, Anna doesn't believe she's dead, despite the funeral director's reassurances that she is merely in transition to the afterlife. Eliot convinces her he has the ability to communicate with the dead and is the only one who can help her. Trapped inside the funeral home, with nobody to turn to except Eliot, Anna is forced to face her deepest fears and accept her own death. But Anna's grief-stricken boyfriend Paul (Long) still can't shake the nagging suspicion that Eliot isn't what he appears to be. As the funeral nears, Paul gets closer to unlocking the disturbing truth, but it could be too late; Anna may have already begun to cross over the other side.


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Details

Genre: Thriller
Release Date: April 9, 2010
MPAA Rating: R
Screen Writer: Paul Vosloo
DVD Release Date: August 3, 2010
Runtime: 104 minutes
Studio: Starz / Anchor Bay
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