Combustible Celluloid
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With: Liam Neeson, Christina Ricci, Justin Long, Josh Charles, Chandler Canterbury, Celia Weston
Written by: Agnieszka Wojtowicz-Vosloo, Paul Vosloo, Jakub Korolczuk
Directed by: Agnieszka Wojtowicz-Vosloo
MPAA Rating: R for nudity, disturbing images, language and brief sexuality
Running Time: 95
Date: 11/07/2009

After.Life (2010)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Taking the 'Fun' Out of 'Funeral'

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Despite the appealing cast, an interesting ambiance and some very ambitious subject matter, After.Life doesn't really work either as a scary movie or as a food-for-thought cautionary tale. (What's up with the "dot" in the title?) It's dreary and depressing, with a relentlessly negative, almost angry tone. The scary stuff is fairly infrequent, and not particularly scary, and the movie's message about finding a point to life is both overly simplistic and frustratingly muddled.

Schoolteacher Anna (Christina Ricci) isn't very happy. She pops pills and doesn't seem to get along with her boyfriend Paul (Justin Long). Just as he is about to propose to her, they fight and she drives off in a rainstorm. She wakes up on a slab in a funeral home, where a soft-spoken funeral director, Eliot Deacon (Liam Neeson), informs her that she's dead. Eliot claims to have a "gift" that allows him to speak to dead people, but Anna doesn't know what to believe. Paul seems to think that Anna is still really alive, and that Eliot has some kind of fiendish plan afoot. The unknown factor in this puzzle is young Jack (Chandler Canterbury), who may also have the same "gift."

The movie has the feel of something that could be a Sixth Sense-like puzzle, but refuses to make anything clear or satisfying. Ultimately, the constant talk of death will upset sensitive viewers, though some horror fans may find that -- unlike most horror movies -- After.Life gives them something to chew on.

Anchor Bay released the great-looking Blu-Ray. Extra features include an audio commentary with co-writer/director Agnieszka Wojtowicz-Vosloo, a featurette "Delving into the After.Life: The Art of Making a Thriller," and a trailer.

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