(Liam Neeson, Justin Long, Christina Ricci, Josh Charles, Celia Weston, et al / DVD / NR / 2010 / Anchor Bay Entertainment)
Overview: Young couple Paul (Justin Long) and Anna (Christina Ricci) are toying with the prospect of marriage when they have a chance encounter with Eliot (Liam Neeson), a mysterious undertaker who claims he can speak with the dead. When Anna becomes caught in the otherworldly realm between life and death, she risks being buried alive.
DVD Verdict: Even though 'After.Life' does feature some decidely top-notch acting, combined with a nice score, together with some lovely scenery and settings, it all could not outweigh the huge disadvantage of fragmented, imperfect storytelling littered with too many plotholes, red herrings, and loose ends as a substitute for ambiguity!
I requested to review this film/DVD because of the cast and the impressive trailer. The trailer left me with the incorrect impression the film was a supernatural thriller.
In an effort to legimitimize itself as an "artistic" work, the film includes much skin-baring of Christina Ricci. She spends most of the film in a clingy red slip. A few gratuitous nude scenes are included, but they aren't sexy or titillating, some are quite gory.
The film is rife with cliche - the child sociopath eager to graduate from torturing/killing animals to torturing/killing people. The ingenue lost in a maelstrom of confusion and lacking the courage to save her own life. The hateful, selfish, abusive mother. The love interest, an attorney best friends with a cop, is convinced his girlfriend is still alive and promptly drinks himself under the table instead of doing something about it.
The biggest letdown is Deacon (Liam Neeson's character) and his motives. I mean, come on! This guy justifies his compulsion as purging the world/society of "lifeless" people. I saw nothing in the film depicting Deacon as somehow more interesting, productive, or worthy of life/living than his victims.
There's plot twisting and then there's self-indulgent, unreliable storytelling. "After.Life" represents the second example. If you enjoy stories of bland, generally unlikeable morticians who kidnap accident victims, employ psychological manipulation and ply the victim with drugs to convince them they're deceased, administer paralytic drugs to give them the appearance of death, and chat nonsensically with souvenir photographs of the victims after funerals and premature burials, this movie might work for you. [AM] This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.35:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
Audio Commentary with Co-Writer/Director Agnieszka Wojtowicz-Vosloo
Delving Into the After.Life: The Art of Making A Thriller