My first, and most important comments on this dark and moody horror are this: Christina Ricci and a red night-dress, or even better still, NAKED!! If you don’t enjoy the film itself, unless your Lost Highway, you will bloody well enjoy watching Ricci prancing around and showing off her rather beautiful figure. Oh, and those eyes, those lovely dark, needy, great big eyes of hers, looking right at you as if she needed you more than anything! Bugger, I need to stop now and actually tell you about the film!
Afterlife is strangely original, even tho it uses ideas that have been used many many times before. Apart from Ricci, I did actually really enjoy this, but then, maybe it was the fact she was on screen either naked, in a tiny red dress, or briefly in a nice black dress and tights, but god dammit I must stop talking about Ricci and get on with this blasted review!! But you must understand, all I can picture while writing this review is her, in that blasted red dress!! Fuck this is difficult!
Ricci plays Anna, and Justin Long plays her long-term boyfriend Paul, the 2 are not exactly happy and it would seem their relationship is feeling the strain. Paul organizes a romantic meal to tell Anna about his promotion, which would mean them moving to another state. Anna panics and believes Paul is about to leave her, and so she jumps ahead and screams at him in the restaurant and runs off, in the rain, getting herself all wet! She jumps in her car and speeds off, eventually she loses control and crashes into a lorry. Next stop, the morgue, and say hello to Eliot Deacon (Liam Neeson), the creepy and rather unsettling coroner who has the wonderful job of cutting off Anna clothes until she is in the red dress, but also has the pleasure of spending time with her naked, the bastard!
Is Anna dead? That is the big question which hovers over the next 80 or so minutes. Paul doesn’t believe she is dead, Anna still won’t accept she is dead, and Neeson keeps repeating the line “You people…” followed by some complaint about the dead. Some would say this film is a bit slow, but I feel it builds a nice and interesting atmosphere that is both unsettling and intense, and always incredibly dark. It feels otherworldly at times, and you just never quite know what the answer is. Hell, even come the end I was still a bit unsure, but it’s a damn fine ride getting there! Atmosphere is the key here, and the film is full of it, and its also full of Ricci in a red dress (DJ stop it!!!!!). Neeson is incredibly creepy, and we get a full on dose of the Sixth Sense as he reveals, coldly and creepily, that he can talk to the dead before they pass over. His job is to spruce them up and get them ready for their funeral and subsequent burial, and during this time he talks to them. Some, like Anna, talk back. Some, like Anna, do not believe they are dead and become a problem, causing Eliot to complain “You people..”
There are a number of truly great scenes of horror and suspense, like when Paul arrives and Anna tries desperately to get outside to see him, like when Anna tries to attack Eliot with some scissors, like when all the lights go out in the coroners room. This feels like its been made by someone who knows what they’re doing, and have long known and respected the horror genre. Make no mistake, there are elements of greatness here. The small cast do a fantastic job, even Justin Long. Ricci wears that dress, and Neeson is cold and unsettling, and looks like he loved every minute! This is an intelligent and engaging little horror that has a terrible poster that does it no justice at all, so please don’t be put off by it if you see it on the shelf. This is well worth your time and effort, even if things don’t become 100% clear, this is well crafted, well acted, well directed and expertly executed to give those looking for something a little different much to enjoy.