Movie Review: After.Life (2009)

Anna (Christina Ricci) and Paul (Justin Long) have been together for quite some time and although Anna seems to be pulling away, Paul is still madly in love with her. When his job offers him a promotion that would require him to move, Paul intends to ask Anna to come with him and be his wife. Anna, however, takes his lead-in as a break-up proposal before he can finish and leaves. After getting into a car accident, Anna wakes up in a funeral home in which the director Eliot Deacon (Liam Neeson) tries to convince her that she’s dead. Anna struggles with whether or not she has passed on and is merely in transition to the afterlife in the hands of a man with an incredible gift or is still alive and being held captive by a lunatic.

When a movie like After.Life is released theatrically, the part of me that loves horror films gets the best of me even though it’s true that most horror films turn out to be more terrible than you could ever imagine. I am, however, one of those fans of the genre that lives for the times a horror film not only lives up to expectations, but surpasses them. After.Life certainly looked to have that potential, but wound up being another mediocre and predictable horror film.

The story is the film’s biggest flaw (although the curious premise is probably what piques the most interest from people). It’s basically because the outcome of the film can really only go one of two ways — either Anna is dead or she isn’t. The writing trio of Agnieszka Wojtowicz-Vosloo, Paul Vosloo and Jakub Korolczuk can be commended for at least trying to swerve the viewer in a different direction once or twice, but the trickery is quickly exposed the moment the thought crosses your mind that something you weren’t expecting may happen. It’s like the film didn’t wait long enough to let the twists and red herrings sink in. The resulting predictability is too obvious to ignore even if you’re somebody who doesn’t try to figure out the ending before it happens.

I’ve also always been picky when it comes to the use of CGI in films. Most of the time special effects that are used turn out looking cheap and take you out of the film since it’s obvious the actors are standing in front of a green screen and/or reacting to something that isn’t there (the spectacular effects in Avatar are the exception). And even though the special effects in After.Life are kept to a minimum, the scenes featuring them are probably the weakest in the movie.

Justin Long was pretty surprising. Judging by the trailer, his role seemed nearly identical to his role as Clay Dalton in Drag Me To Hell. While his role as Paul is similar, he showed a lot more emotion this time around. Long proved that he has more skill and is more talented than a lot of people (including myself) have ever given him credit for in the past.

After.Life isn’t a terrible film, but it is disappointing when compared to what it could have been. Justin Long easily manages to outshine both Liam Neeson and Christina Ricci, and the film’s low budget is noticeable thanks to its cheap use of computer graphics. While its premise may seem promising, After.Life is just another run of the mill horror/thriller. You do, however, get to see Christina Ricci bare it all for a good portion of the film, so it’s not all bad.

Critical Movie Critic Rating:
2 Star Rating: Bad


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The Critical Movie Critics

I've been a critic for about four years now. Joined the Houston Film Critics Society in August of 2010. I hope to become a Tomatometer critic for Rotten Tomatoes and a member of the Online Film Critics Society in the coming months.

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