“After.Life” spends most of its build-up on a faux-horror entirely dependent on devices accentuated by mere sound and lighting effects. Unfortunately, it was without any imminent threat or looming conflict so as the hour spurs, the experience had become a worrisome burden precariously bordered on a boredom. Eventually, when the film finally started to offers a taste of its core, it has grown stale that the understanding that comes with it ended in a flat, non-satisfying note.
One day, Paul (Justin Long) asked his girlfriend Anna (Christina Ricci) about the spark that seemingly wasn’t there anymore. However, he’s still optimistic with their relationship. And then Anna suffers a car accident. She was pronounced dead and brought to Eliot (Liam Neeson), a funeral director to prepares her for her burial. He told Anna, as he prepares her for her funeral that he has a gift of transitioning the dead and Anna’s refusal to acknowledge her own demise, was a common cause among the deceased that he has ever prepared a burial for.
That was as much as I could go without spoiling anything. The choice of Christina Ricci to portray Anna is, … let’s just say appropriate. She has gone a long way from her cute role in “Casper” (to whom I had shamelessly had a crush on as she was about my age) and had donned her gaunt, ghost-like appearance, reminiscence of her role in “The Addams Family” to a great, even perhaps, horrifying effect. Liam Neeson, again, practicing his guttural speech he is best known for, brought his role as a frustrated funeral director, tired with his gift, or curse, or his impatience toward the dead insistence for not staying dead with a deft deliverance. And poor Justin Long, forever known as that guy from Apple ads.
Had it not for a long and nearly boring faux-horror build up at the early scenes, the film could actually do well to hold its end of the bargains. During the early scenes, the film kept choking us with an intensifying sound and lighting effect. I was scrambling, not for a cover, but for a plot device, or a sensible conflict to drive the film forward. I found none. It was made worse by the fact that I had no one to root for. Anna’s character was nearly without any redeeming quality that I don’t care whether she lives or dies. Paul had my sympathy for keeping Anna but nothing more and gosh, this is why I had a small love toward child actor. Forgive for saying this, but I would prefer to slap my face silly than watching this child actor.
The only interesting character of this film was Eliot. Obviously, it was his character’s nature that would later become the main attraction in the much stronger, but way shorter, third act of this film. But as the film tends to spend most of its running time prancing around Anna, circling away from his character in an obvious effort to conceal the film’s “twisted” revelation, his character was scantly developed. At the end, as interesting as he was, he ended up almost like Anna and Paul and the rest of this film. Forgettable.
My rating: ** / **** – My real issue with this film was it obviously tries to held its revelation for as long as possible. Well, it ended up ran for too long, and I found myself scrambling for a conflict, or for a real reason to kept my interest hooked up with the story. Although when it does arrives, the film manages to drive my interest rate up for a notch. Well, more like half a notch, actually.