Throwback Horror films are all the rage right now. Many are trying to combine elements of new and old together to make something that has its own identity. Luckily, most of the ones that I've come across that do this actually pull it off (perhaps I'm a lucky picker) and "After.Life" is one of those movies. It mostly reflects an older style of film with just enough modern touch to not be an 'homage' and still rise to the occasion against others in this time and age. Its also a damn tense watch.
Anna (Ricci) is a school teacher that can't quite put her finger on what's wrong with her life. Her overly loving boyfriend Paul (Long) tries so hard to give her everything but nothing seems to truly make her happy. Then she has a car accident. She awakes in a funeral home where the director of the home (Neeson) insists that she died in the accident and his unique ability to speak with the dead is a gift and curse as he tries to help those cope with the transition. The real question that plagues Anna and Paul is whether or not she is really dead. How do you deal with death if life wasn't everything?
With substantial tension, atmosphere, and a solid artistic eye, "After.Life" is a film that owes quite a bit to the 70s psychological Horror film. Its builds on its rather basic script with great prowess of storytelling and characters that makes your basic slasher Horror film look like child's play. With its slow burning tale of love lost and the question of foul play hanging in the air, "After.Life" succeeds in creating a lot of in depth intrigue with very little in ways of grandeur. Its simplicity and subtlety make this film a nice intense watch.
Granted, it does suffer a bit from being a bit long winded. Writer/director Wojtowicz-Vosloo (say that ten times fast) knows how to work those little details in nice ways, but at times I felt myself craving something more. I wanted the ending of the film to be even more climatic in a way. Not to give spoilers, but the ending did seem a little cliche for all the back and forth tension we get from the story.
All in all, "After.Life" is a nice 70s throwback film that should have garnered even more press and momentum then it did before its release. This is a film that will find its audience eventually and gather a following despite some its its rather long winded moments.
BONUS RANT: Growing up watching Ricci in films like "The Addams Family" and "Casper" did make this film a little awkward. She does have substantial nude scenes in the film, all of which are not gratuitous but artful and fitting, but seeing her that way did make me a little uncomfortable at times. Almost like seeing a sister nude. A little odd for this reviewer.
Written By Matt Reifschneider