Chainsaw Cheerleader Reviews: After.Life (2009)
Directed by: Agniezka Wojtowicz-Vosloo
Written by: Agniezka Wojtowicz-Vosloo
Cast: Liam Neeson, Christina Ricci, Justin Long
Genre: Supernatural, Thriller
One of the saddest aspects of film is the movie that had great potential but fell short of that possibility. After.Life is a film that most likely read great as a script but failed to translate well onto the big screen. While not brilliant and at times predictable, After. Life feels like a movie that mainly suffered at the hands of its inexperienced director. After.Life is Agniezka Wojtowicz-Vosloo’s first film. By no means a masterpiece, the film is weighed down by Wojtowicz-Vosloo’s choice in pacing, cutting away to quickly from one scene to the next while only conveying blurred bits of information, and poor casting. Often at times these bits of information went by so quickly or were hidden in the background so well that they went by unnoticed.
The storyline of After.Life follows Anna Taylor (Christina Ricci), a school teacher who is unhappy with her life and her relationships. After meeting her boyfriend, Paul (Justin Long) for dinner he informs her that he is being transferred to another city. Mistaking this information as a means to break up with her, Anna storms out of the restaurant. As Anna drives distracted by her cell phone she rams her car into another vehicle. The crash scene is implied and not shown as Anna closes her eyes and opens them to find she is laying on a slab in a funeral home. Upon waking, Anna is greeted by the funeral homes owner, Eliot Deacon (Liam Neeson). Deacon informs Anna that he can see the dead and it is his job to help them cross over from life into death. Not believing him, Anna fights for her release. Deacon argues that just because dead people claim they are alive because they can, “breath and piss and shit.” they are mistaken and he will help her accept her death. Deacon often injects Anna with a chemical stating that it will help relax her muscles and keep rigor mortis from setting in.
After having escaped from the basement of the funeral home, Anna tries to call Paul. As she stands in front of a window in the funeral home a student she used to teach sees her. While being a child that is fascinated by death, he hangs around the funeral home and watches those who enter and leave. Believing that he can see the dead, the student approaches Deacon and tells him he saw Anna. Deacon tells the child that he sees corpses walking around all the time with no life left in them. Deacon then takes the child under his wing and teaches him his philosophy about death and who deserves to die. After seeing Anna, the student tells Paul he saw her. It is at this point that Paul begins to believe that Anna may still be alive.
After.Life tries to be seen as a thriller by making the viewer wonder if Anna is really dead or alive and can Deacon really see spirits or is he making Anna think she is dead while slowly cutting off all her clothes and injecting her with drugs for his own twisted pleasure. The issue with this is that the plot devices given in the first half of the movie are so obvious that the viewer can already answer those questions. The suspense is lost when from the very beginning the viewer knows if Deacon can really talk to the dead or is a serial killer. The anxiety of what will happen to Anna is lost by the fact that she continually complains about her life. Christina Ricci hurts more then she helps the role of Anna. Ricci often speaks in a whiny tone and whimpers. Ricci makes you hope that Anna really is dead. Ricci is also almost completely nude throughout the entire film. Her being nude is not the issue but the length in time that she is nude. At first the nudity seems normal for the situation but it distracts from what is going on because at some point you ask yourself why isn’t she wearing clothes. When you have to start questioning nudity you know something if very off with a scene.
With a name such as Liam Neeson attached to a project one would assume that the movie cannot be all that bad. Sadly, even Neeson can only polish this turd of a film so much. While watching him you get the impression that at some point during the shooting of this film, Neeson just stopped caring. Neeson seems like he is just regurgitating the script instead of acting what has been written. Normally when one sees Neeson attached to a film you know that even if the movie is terrible that he will be enjoyable to watch. After all this is the same man who in the film Breakfast on Pluto played a priest in conservative Ireland with an illegitimate child who has grown up to be a transvestite and was brilliant regardless of how off the wall the plot of the movie seemed. If Neeson can play a priest with a love why can he not play an undertaker who may or may not be crazy?
After.Life suffered greatly at the hands of the director. His inexperience and casting actors who did not care or were just plan awful suffocated any chance that this film could have had at being a solid thriller. The director seemed to have relied to heavily on our own natural fear of death rather than actually trying to tell a scary story.
After.Life receives 2 1/2 naked Christina Riccis out of 5