Friday, January 16, 2015


***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! Did the title really need that period?

After.Life – 1 out of 5

Sometimes I add films to my Netflix queue (I dropped your name Netflix, pay me) and I forget about it.  Maybe I read something about it and was interested at the time but not interested enough to watch it immediately or maybe Netflix recommended it to be based on my interests and viewing habits, I don’t know.  However, there is usually a time when I suddenly get a DVD in the mail and I look at it and say, “Hmm, why did I add this one to my queue?”  After.Life is one of those films…
"If someone takes you...I will find them and--you know what?
You know the rest."

After having an argument with her boyfriend, Anna Taylor (Christina Ricci) gets into a car accident and wakes up in a funeral home.  She is greeted by the man who runs the place, Eliot Deacon (Liam Neeson), and he informs her that she has died.  Anna refuses to believe him and is convinced that his claims of being able to speak to the dead are greatly exaggerated and, in reality, she is just being held against her will and is still alive.  Her boyfriend Paul (Justin Long) is inconsolable over her death and, also, comes to believe that she is, indeed, alive and there is something that Deacon isn’t telling him.  Now he must try to save his beloved while Anna tries to escape at the same time.
She seems pretty "whatevs" about being dead.

Realistically, I think the reason I added this film to my queue was because Liam Neeson was in it and I thought, “Hey, he’s in a horror/thriller film?  I’ll watch that.”  Because, let’s be honest, I didn’t add this film for the presence of Christina Ricci and Justin Long.  After watching, I think I could have left this on my queue for much longer and never would have really cared that much.
For me, Ricci peaked at Wednesday Addams.

The story has potential to be interesting and, occasionally, it is.  However, the film wastes way too much time to try and create a mystery that really didn’t need to be there and fails at every turn to create conflict.  The story wants you to think there is a possibility that Anna is alive but it is never convincing.  The story also wants you to think there is something unsavory about the character of Eliot Deacon but it never works and it is the supporting cast that comes off more nutso than he.  Finally, the story tries to have the whole scenario of Paul trying to find out if Anna is alive and being held captive look like it makes total sense and be one of those times where the crazy guy is right type of moments but it just never works.  The whole time the film comes off silly whenever Long’s character tries to act like Anna is still alive and he’s her only hope.  The film has some scenes where he sees visions of Anna’s ghost and a little kid tells him that he saw her alive but these events of “proof” did little to make me sympathize with Paul and, when you add in Long’s inability to not be annoying when he’s playing a non-comedic role, this whole aspect of the film is either just tedious or accidental comedy.  Never once did I root for Paul to find out the truth about his girlfriend and only found myself saying, “Wow, he just looks like a moron.”
The sex scene no one wanted to see...

Acting wise, the film isn’t really that special.  Ricci is painfully unconvincing with nearly every line she delivers and, like I touched on previously, Justin Long is too hard to take seriously in a non-comedic role.  His Jerry Lewis-level of delivery he gives off when his character is hysterical is playing out more like bad comedy than anything else and, even though it is completely accidental and exists only because Long isn’t that talented of an actor, it makes for a striking change in tone of the film.

"Thanks for visit...I'm going to stand here and make sure your tail lights work."
The score would greatly improve if Neeson just cold-
clocked Long.
The film also does a tremendously poor job of developing any and every character in the film.  Ricci’s character of Anna Taylor is the only one who really seems to be growing (which is amusing since her character just died) throughout the story.  Paul is a one-dimensional character who works at a corporate job and acts in the most stereotypical way of grief (read that as he is seen drinking a lot…why express how he is in pain when you can just take the short route and show him getting smashed?).  Even the funeral director Eliot Deacon, who seems to have the ability to converse with the dead, is given no real attention or is really given any meaningful insight to who he is, why he can do what he does, or the roots to why he’s kind of a dick to the dead.  The film even decides to add in a little conflict between Anna’s mother (played by Celia Weston) and Paul and it feels like there is some serious shit between the two but the film, ultimately, does abso-fucking-nothing with it.  It end up making a film that becomes very boring and dragging because I ended up watching a bunch of characters with no real development bumble their way through a story that also has no real development going on with it.
Dear Script Writers...people often mishandle their grief through means outside
of alcohol.  Just saying...

The only real shining light the film has is the fact that Neeson is doing a fantastic job in his role.  Yes, his character isn’t feathered out or really developed but Neeson is acting the fuck out of it.  The only problem is that his delivery is so good that it is making all the other performances look even worse.  His exchanges with Ricci are almost painful to endure because she looks like she’s phoning it in while he is giving it his all. 
Don't let the weird face and the flowers fool you.  He's Liam "Freakin'" Neeson...
he can still kill you in a variety of ways.  Or at least his movies lead me to
believe he can.  Either way, I wouldn't risk it.

The premise for After.Life could have easily worked but the story feels like a first draft and, aside from Liam Neeson, the acting is pretty bad.  While I’m a fan of Neeson, his talent alone isn’t enough to make a thrill-less thriller work and this film just sinks to the depths of the forgotten for me.

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