After.Life (2009) movie poster

(2009) director Agnieszka Wojtowicz-Vosloo
viewed: 08/03/10

Girl dies.  Wakes up in funeral home.  Mortician tells her she is dead.  Girl has tough time believing that.  Mortician tells her that he has a “gift” that lets him talk to the newly dead to help them with their transition.  Girl isn’t sure she believes him.  Fun ensues.

Well, all but the “Fun ensues” part.

After.Life is a kind of boring would-be thriller in which most of the above happens.  The girl is Christina Ricci, a schoolteacher who is somewhat out of her element in life (until she dies in a car crash — and then she’s really out of her element…and out of life).  Liam Neeson is the mortician, riding the line between benign humanity and vague creepiness.  And the drama also rides a line between whether she is dead or she’s being held captive by a psychopathic mortician who just likes screwing with people and then burying them alive.

Either angle could potentially have made for a decent film.  But written and directed by Polish filmmaker Agnieszka Wojtowicz-Vosloo, the whole thing is tepid even in its best moments.  And at its worst, is just flat-out boring.

I was set to mind recalling an image in a book that I had as a kid about “zombie movies” or something (believe me, I’d love to find a copy of this book if I could remember what it was called) that had a picture of a guy with a naked girl laying on top of a casket with some odd small object on her stomach.  The caption of the photo was “so-and-so tries to make a naked girl interesting”.  And I always assumed the joke was that naked girls were inherently interesting, yet that movie was so bad that the guy was failing.

Well, Christina Ricci spends much of the latter third of this film on a morgue table stark naked and I can tell you that Wojtowicz-Vosloo faced this same challenge and lost.  The film isn’t helped by its coy nature, trying to have a thriller that goes both ways.  Because if Neeson is telling the truth, then it’s sort of more a psychological or metaphysical sort of thing and he’s potentially a kind man.  But if he’s lying and is crazy then it’s pretty weird and scary.  But it’s neither.  But is it neither because it’s both?

Eh.  Anyway, this film ain’t what it’s trying to be cracked up to be.

And I could do without seeing Justin Long (who plays her bereaving boyfriend) in a movie ever again.

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