- Running time:
- 103 minutes
- Christina Ricci -
- Anna Taylor
- Liam Neeson -
- Eliot Deacon
- Justin Long -
- Paul Conran
- Josh Charles -
- Tom Petersen
- Chandler Canterbury -
Anna (Christina Ricci) has a pretty decent life—a solid job as a schoolteacher, a nice boyfriend (Justin Long) who wants to be her fiancé—but she doesn’t appreciate it until it’s too late. She’s involved in a car accident and wakes up in the prep room of funeral director Eliot (Liam Neeson), who promptly informs her she’s dead. Anna finds this hard to believe, especially since she can still carry on a conversation. Eliot’s explanation: he sees dead people, and has realized he can help them transition from life to afterlife. But does Eliot really have a sixth sense, or is he holding Anna prisoner?
The buzz: This indie horror thriller sounds like an ambitious feature debut for European director Agnieszka Wojtowicz-Vosloo. Neeson filmed his creepy role prior to the death of his wife, Natasha Richardson, but the real life tragedy adds a weird (too weird?) spin to his death-obsessed character. Ricci, meanwhile, continues a trend of uninhibited portrayals of damaged young women (“Monster,” “Black Snake Moan”).
The verdict: Putting polished visuals and overall creepiness ahead of big scares or gore, “After.Life” positions itself as a sophisticated horror film. It works, for the most part, resulting in an atmospheric effort curious enough to intrigue both hardcore horror fans and those simply looking for a good thriller. The dialogue balances wit (“You’re a corpse. Your opinion doesn’t count any more”) with heavy-handed “life is wasted on the living” messages, but the real hook comes from the way the movie milks its tantalizing central mystery—is Anna dead or alive? It’s so enigmatic it’s almost infuriating, but the ambiguity allows the three leads, especially Neeson, room for gratifyingly complex performances. Their work—along with key supporting turns from Chandler Canterbury and Celia Weston—gives this haunting life or death tale its soul.
Did you know? Financing for “After.Life” was worked out on September 15, 2008, the day Lehman Bros.’ collapse triggered the economic meltdown and made it that much harder to find money for indie films.
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