After.Life (Blu-ray / DVD)
Reviewed by Uncle Creepy
Starring Christina Ricci, Liam Neeson, Justin Long
Directed by Agnieszka Wojtowicz-Vosloo
Distributed by Anchor Bay Entertainment
Ever since the synopsis for Agnieszka Wojtowicz-Vosloo's eerie sounding horror flick After.Life hit the Internet, it seemed like a winner -- if only for the creep factor. One-sheets, stills, and eventually clips did a lot to increase curiosity and entice the viewer into watching. Plus it features a nude Christina Ricci, and there's nothing wrong with that! When my esteemed colleague Mr. Dark wrote his After.Life review, I was pretty disheartened. How could a movie with such a scary premise miss the mark? Well, for my money it totally didn't. In fact it hit it like a speeding freight train.
Anna Taylor (Ricci) is a woman with a lot of emotional distress. Unhappy in her personal life, she spends her time trying to change things up and make them better, but it's all to no avail. After a horrible misunderstanding with her boyfriend (Long, who seems to be forever cursed in movies to never get the girl), Anna ends up in a tragic car accident that leaves her on an icy slab ... awake ... or dead, yet awake ... or something.
It's there that she meets Deacon (Neeson), a mortician who claims to possess the amazing ability to speak with the recently deceased. There's just one hitch ... Anna doesn't believe that she's dead. Deacon informs her that this reaction is commonplace amongst the dead, but she's just not buying it. How could she be dead? She's breathing. She's able to move. Again she's told ... this is all part of the denial stage. Three days will pass until Anna's wake and burial, and they are spent playing a cat and mouse like game between her and the mortician, whom she believes to have an agenda. A brutal, frightening, psychotic agenda. Or is he merely just a medium trying to make the transition into the afterlife a smooth one for those who fall into his care?
Honestly? I was left guessing until the very end. Wojtowicz-Vosloo has perfectly crafted this thriller to keep you on the edge of your seat while laying on atmosphere so thick and at times dreadfully surreal that you won't dare to take your eyes off of the screen. Ricci is absolutely fearless in her portrayal of Anna, and Neeson effortlessly turns in one of the year's most disturbingly creepy performances. Sure there are a few pitfalls here and there plot-wise, and there are a couple of pacing issues, but overall this flick is a shiver-inducing winner.
Though the DVD and the Blu-ray share the same extras, if you have the tech, pick up the high-def package, if only for the vibrant color palette and the deliciously solid blacks. This baby really pops and is a true feast for the eyes. You wouldn't think a simple movie like this would be heavy in the visuals department, but man, is it ever. Some shots truly lie on the breathtaking side of the fence, and Blu-ray is the perfect way to enjoy them with every ounce of clarity and detail popping off the screen. Really good stuff.
As for the movie's supplemental material we get a very standardized offering. Things kick off with a lively director's commentary that you'll definitely want to dig on during your second viewing (trust me, there will be a second viewing). From there we get the Delving into the After.Life: The Art of Making a Thriller featurette, which is essentially an eight-minute interview with Wojtowicz-Vosloo in which she comes clean on exactly what was going on in the movie. Was Anna really dead? The director gives the straight dope here so do NOT watch this before seeing the flick. Add on a trailer, and we're done.
Surprisingly enough After.Life has turned out to be one of the best damn things I've seen all year. Is it for everyone? Probably not. I'm sure there will be folks complaining that it's too long or slow moving for their tastes. That's fine, too. One thing is for sure though - the movie is thought-provoking enough to instantly spark discussion upon viewing. No matter how you slice it, that's a good thing. See the flick, draw your own conclusions, and let us know what you think below.
4 out of 5
2 1/2 out of 5