After.Life Review

Published 5 years ago by

Let’s just get down to the basics: If you want to see both a movie that keeps you guessing as to what’s really happening AND Christina Ricci naked – then After.Life is for you.

after life review After.Life Review
Screen Rant reviews After.Life

I’m sure that the summary above is no more than what many healthy young males need to read before dashing off to watch After.Life. The film is an obviously low budget little piece of work, and I was really surprised to see Liam Neeson in it. Must have been one of those movies that looked very intriguing in screenplay form.

Paul (Justin Long) and Anna (Christina Ricci) are a young couple with what seems to be a bit of a stunted relationship. Anna seems to have… issues. She’s cold and distant and is taking some sort of prescription medication like it’s going out of style. He’s an upcoming young executive and she’s a schoolteacher, and it’s unclear what either of them are still doing with the other as the relationship has obviously gone far south.

Anna feels protective of a little boy called Jack (Chandler Canterbury) who is a quiet, sensitive boy who is picked on by his larger classmates. He feels an attachment to her and seems to be curious about death (she has a funeral to attend – of a very old relative or friend of the family). While not getting into arguments with her boyfriend (who wants to propose marriage for some strange reason) she seems to be hallucinating – she sees overhead lights go out behind her as she walks down a hallway and a corpse in a casket move.

She and Justin have a big blowout argument while at a restaurant, and after she storms off she gets in a car accident that kills her… or does it?

That is the big question upon which the entire film hinges. Liam Neeson plays Eliot Deacon, a mortician who seems alternatively compassionate and menacingly creepy. He claims that he can communicate with the dead right after they’ve died, and is there to help them with the transition from the world of the living to the afterlife.

It seems the purpose of the film is to keep jerking the audience back and forth between believing that Anna is, in fact, dead, and that she is not and that he is keeping her prisoner for some reason that only he can fathom. As to that purpose I’ll say that the film is effective: One moment I found myself thinking “Well of course she’s dead” and the next thinking “Hang on, there’s something fishy going on here with his behavior.” Watching the movie you’ll vacillate many times between those two points of view.

ricci neeson after life After.Life Review

Christina Ricci and Liam Neeson in 'After.Life'

Eliot alternatively consoles and derides Anna, saying it’s the same every time – he’s just there to help and most people don’t believe or can’t accept they’re dead, even though they are.

In the meantime Paul is having a difficult time accepting that Anna is gone, especially since the last time he saw her they had a bad argument. He comes to believe that she is not dead, and little Jack exacerbates that when he says that he saw her standing in a window at the mortuary.

Liam Neeson is an actor that I just really enjoy seeing on the big screen. Here his performance is muted, reminding me of the initial phone call between him and the kidnapper in Taken: Very even, quiet, low key and a bit wooden (appropriate to a mortician, I suppose). Christina Ricci does a nice job in the role, transitioning from denial that she’s actually dead to acceptance (whether it’s true or not). She spends most of the film in a red slip, but eventually writer/director Agnieszka Wojtowicz-Vosloo manages to get her naked for a large part of the film. While that isn’t exactly cause for complaint – it did (for me, anyway) knock points off the “legitimate” factor of the film and made it seem more exploitative.

So there’s nudity and some gore in the film (sometimes combined, which is always unsettling). In the end I just wanted a resolution to the thing and to know whether Eliot was actually a good man or a creepy, nefarious bad guy – and whether Anna was really dead or not. There was certainly tension throughout the entire film, but I’m one of those people that only wants to be jerked around so many times by a “is it or isn’t it” kind of story. After a while it just gets old.

Basically, if you like the sort of film that keeps you guessing as to what’s really going on or if you’ve missed seeing Christina Ricci naked since Black Snake Moan – then After.Life might be worth an hour and a half of your time.

Our Rating:

2.5 out of 5
(Fairly Good)

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  1. even though we couldnt hear the dead man responding, liam neeson was still arguing with him

  2. Eliot is clearly unstable and has convinced himself that he is helping his victims, he saw Anna at the funeral and how empty her life was, as mentioned in other comments the obvious signs of her occupide mind set. It is likely he followed her in his van and instigated her accident, while unconscious he must have drugged her leading her to be pronounced dead and taken into his funeral home. In order to keep his fantasy of ‘communicating with the dead’ alive, it was important for him to convince Anna that she was dead, rather than to just kill her. He sees her as a living corpse and feels the need to bury her among the dead, so that the world may be inhabited by those who appreciate and fulfil their lives.

    Anna could have been his last victim, perhaps an attempt to redeem himself by having her accept death peacefully, but her struggle and resistance before her funeral led him to need to kill paul. Paul insists that he can’t live without Anna which is tested and proven when his drunk driving leads him into an accident of his own. Not without Eliots encouragment of course. It is notable that at the start of Paul’s journey there is traffic, but it then disappears and is replaced by sirens. I believe at this point he was unconscious and probably recieved the same treatment as Anna had previously. However because Paul was intent on believing that Anna was still alive, Eliot would have been unable to convince him that he was dead and thus he had to kill him.

    As for the young boy, I doubt that he is dead as he interacts with Anna, Paul and various others at his school, he is even mentioned for being hit at the police station. The boy in the photo is likely just similar looking and placed to confuse you. I believe his role is that of an ‘angel’, he is present soon before the ‘death’ of Anna and Paul, when Anna is in the corridor and the lights go out, it is him who brings back the light and releases her from the building. When Paul gets in his car, the boy also comments that he should remember to do his seat belt. It is fitting that he should follow paths with Eliot, as Eliot sees himself as a god-like figure, cleansing the world of those who do not appeaciate their lives.

    But perhaps I am looking to deeply into such a simple film.

    • Thanks ThewayIseeit, literally just finished watching it and was scratching my head for the answers!

    • You didn’t exactly explain everything.. There’s still a confusion that might be a movie mistake or something. When Paul was unconscious and died of the car accident and imagined he unburied Anna. How did he saw her fingers bleeding? That’s the only scene I don’t understand from the whole movie. It’d be nice if there was an answer. Thanks :)

  3. I think you’re right “thewayiseeit” I’m glad you expressed your opinion, as your assumption is concluding and now I will sleep tonight.

    Thank you, Joel

  4. I was so mad at the end of that movie!!!! I just wanted everything to be okay, but NO!!! Paul just had to die!!! :'( That made me SOOO mad!!!! I was so happy when he pulled her out of the coffin and she was like “I love you, I always loved you” or whatever, then he wakes up in the morgue and it’s like… WTF?!?!?!?!?

  5. The film failed miserably whether she was dead or alive. If she was alive then why did she never eat, drink or need the toilet. If she was dead, then why did she leave mist on the mirror and was able to interact with solid objects. Also, why was Deacon so scared of her escaping.

      • Uh? TMI!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Yccording to an interview with the director as shown on the film’s DVD, Anna was alive, and there are many clues throughout that point to this. Just before Anna’s accident, she is being tailgated by a white van that we later learn belongs to Deacon. About 60 minutes into the movie, Anna is in a room with Deacon with a mirror. She admits that she looks like a corpse, closes her eyes, and exhales. Her breath fogs up the mirror, which Deacon wipes away before she reopens her eyes. When Paul is at the police station, one of the cops mentions that a drug exists that could slow heartbeat to almost nothing and cause paralysis. When we see Deacon giving Anna an injection shortly after, the vial has the same name on it. Note that it is pointless to inject a corpse with anything because there is no blood flow and therefore no way to circulate a drug through the body. There is also the scene between Anna and Deacon where she sees her breath condensation on the handheld mirror and panics, screaming “You lied to me!” Deacon is in fact a psychopath, who takes it upon himself to decide who gets to live. The final clue is when Deacon puts Anna’s picture on his wall, and we pan out to see all of the pictures. Some of the people have eyes open, other eyes closed. Wojtowicz-Vosloo says that those whose eyes were open were, like Anna, ones who were not really dead.

    • Shw never eat, drink or need the toilet because the drug he gave to her made her resist that need for two days, she couldn’t feel pain so she wasn’t able to touch her pulse and see if her heart was really beating or not. This movie’s really twisted lol..

  6. thanks so much for clearing up a few sections in this film. I thoroughly enjoyed this movie as there was certainly intrigue and suspense. for me, i figured she was alive at the first breath as ghost thought us spirits can move physical items. Movies dont always should ppl going to the toilet or eating. at the end the movie was not fulfilling as we all expect the star to live but i guess that’s what so good about suspense, there is no telling how it will end. :) I like a movie with a moral and this one talks about life and learning to appreciate it.

  7. YOU ARE BEING LED ON THE GARDEN PATH by the official film description, as 95% of all viewers.

    Sure, Taylor does neither drink nor eat, but this is a natural consequence of the injected bromide drug (ask your pharmacist). Remember the scene with the two detectives, the guy standing on the left answers the question, whether there are such “paralyzing” drugs, in the affirmative: Yes, there are criminals using such bromide drugs to paralyze their victims to make them appear dead.
    Neeson “talks” also with really dead corpses – but they do NOT answer – of course not -they are dead.
    Throughout the whole film there is only plausible evidence that she is NOT dead. She walks around in the house, the undertaker locks the entrance door twice to prevent her from escaping (corpses do not escape). Corpses do not throw books and furniture about. Last not least, the “corpse” realizes by the humidity of her breath on the mirror that she is really alive! The lunatic killer understands at once and forcibly injects her the dangerous drug to paralyze her, so that no one of the bystanders at her open coffin might see that she is alive! In her grave she shows her bloody fingernails from trying to open the coffin!! Any more evidence needed?

    • I completely agree with you. This is what I thought too. The detective talks about that drug & we see the close up of the drug when he injects her. And the breath & throwing of stuff & other stuff you’ve mentioned. I’m not sure about others but she surely wasn’t dead.

    • I agree with you , and in the middle you see Liam Neeson’s character opening a wooden box with a syringe and a lot of viles of some liquid. I think that those are the drugs that the detective was talking about that makes people seem dead to everyone else.

  8. I thought it was a good movie and came to similar conclusions but, I think the little boy is just a lonely boy/serial killer in the making.
    The few points I’m unclear about are whether the piano teacher was a victim of The Mortician (every serial killer get a name, and this one, we don’t even have to think about it), or not and if Jack’s mom is dead or alive. I know there was nothing supernatural going on, so did she turn and look at him ..?

  9. People, Elliot was a serial killer! No but, if or maybe about it. He chose his victims among those he considered undeserving of life. The wonderful thing about it wasnwhen he convinced her she was dead. At the end, he opened the door for her, almost letting her go yet, she panicked and his reaction to that led me to believe he’d always offered his victims another chance at life but, they always chose death. She said she was glad she was dead.
    Elliot wasn’t lying, he can and does talk to the “dead”. He was living in his own world with a distorted view of reality. Some deads he talked to answered, some didn’t.

    It’s was a great movie, it wasn’t about feeling good and the movie wasn’t about the couple, it was about a serial killer. For me, it wasn’t about guessing if she was alive or dead as she was clearly alive (just wish she had her period while there, lol, that would’ve convinced her). I was watching how she got played like a piano, she believed she was dead because someone told her so. When her boyfriend was right outside the door, she stayed silent. She had so many opportunities but…
    The human mind is amazing. How many things do we believe in and blindly follow just because someone told us to?

  10. Another indicator that Anna was alive was when she had chill bumps all over her body after Elliot decreased the room temperature. She also had erected mammary papilla.

  11. Also, the wound on her head is almost completely healed by the end of the movie!

  12. yes but how did she see herself as a dead corpse but fine in real life?! mmmmmm boggling!

    • the only time she sees herself as a corpse is in a hallusination, she never walked out of the morgue

  13. There were subtle but clear clues that Anna was in fact alive and that Eliot was in fact a psychopath. The breath on the 2 mirrors especially the one she doesn’t see , goose bumps, the condition of her body besides the sex and age difference you could clearly see that the other body in the morgue was indeed a corpse, the wrecking of the morgue, dead people cannot move solid objects if she was in spirit form she would only have to look at her corpse to be convinced, the feeling of pain, her dreaming and Jack putting the live chick in a shoe box to bury it indicates how his apprenticeship with Eliot is proving.
    As for Eliot being a psychopath, he is arguing with and then defacing the old man’s corpses he has Polaroid mementos of his “clients” pasted on his wall and the finally egging Paul on, he obviously drugged his drink before sending him out.
    I think this piece speaks of the arrogances of some people (intellectual elitists) with complexities about the mundane rituals’ and their view that our everyday lives is a waste, when in fact it is what it is, life. Does Eliot not s*** and piss and go to the mall even worse he is burdened with the task of presenting the corpses from what he thinks is a meager existence to be mourned and then forgotten, his view, because of his lonely existence. He has developed a hate for the living and a disdain for the dead so he develops a God complex with a delusion of a gift to guide the dead which he never actually does, His guidance is no more than a rant of his view of the living and some parental type cooing. Eliot needs to have “live” confirmation of his gift which is the progression of his psychotic delusion. Yeah and Paul is alive too. Anyway that’s how I see it. It is great that good actors do these independent type films although this was very well produced as well as acted and directed.

  14. so why was her voice garbled to paul

  15. also why couldnt see kill deacon when she had the chance

  16. is the chick alive or dead

  17. this movie does confuse me. I dont understand it, but it was well written and I am sure to watch the part 2 when jack burries deacon.

  18. bad phone connection

  19. Assuming that the dead can exist in a transition state, isn’t is possible that the person would believe that they are still alive? In that phase they may believe that they are breathing and feeling pain. They believe they are interacting with others. But they are not. So Anna believing she is breathing, has a pulse, feels pain, and can walk and talk does not mean that this is necessarily the case.

    If Anna is dead, there is some difficulty with her wounds moving, and her being seen by the boy! And there is also difficulty with two accident victims arriving fully clothed in the funeral home. No autopsy, no sign of medical attention (ER rooms always remove clothes), etc. Paul’s visions after his own death do suggest that Anna was similarly undergoing post mortem visions.

    Ultimately this is a work of fiction, and not well thought out or written. There is no right answer, I think.

    • And the fact that the coroner pronounced them dead and sent them to the funeral home supports the option that they are actually DEAD! BRILLIANT, BTW.


  20. Pls I need to see the part 2 of this movie. Deacon can not just go unpurnished and anna can not just be burried alive. Its unfair

  21. It was clear that Anna was dead. All of Eliot’s “victims” were really dead. Eliot did not abduct the “victims”. All of the corpses were sent there by presumably by family members or the police. The people would have to be certified dead and a dead certificate issued. In order for Eliot to get his hands on so many “victims” that he could fill a wall with photos, the medical examiner had to be really, really screwed up.

    I think what the movie portrayed is the idea that those souls that newly passed over are not aware that they are dead. They feel absolutely alive and they finds impossible to believe that they are dead. They see what are expect to see, including mist on the mirror when they breathe onto it.

    There are many clues that point to the fact that Anna was indeed dead:

    * She had a very big wound on her forehead and was no bleeding–because her heart had stopped pumping blood

    * The movie portrayed that the cop who took advantage of Anna “saw” that she turned her head. If the cop really saw that, would he not have freaked and yet still wanted to try advantage of her?

    * Her ability to mess up the room pointed to poltergeist activity

    * There was another corpse (an old woman) that spoke to Anna just as she was alive. The old woman told Anna she was not ready, referring to the fact that she was not ready to recognize her dead and pass into the other side

    * Anna phoned Paul but Paul coud not hear her, indicating some sort of paranormal activity

    * When Paul finally met Anna after he died in the accident, Anna told him the sound he heard was the Eliot’s scissors. Just like Anna, the newly dead Paul did not realize he was dead.

    I think the Eliot acted weird because almost every new soul he tried to help accused him of doing something evil. He was just sick of it as his kind intentions but being repaid with hostility, but at the same time felt pity for these souls and wanted to help ease their transition.

    The comments that Eliot made to Paul towards the end of the movie wwas to spite Paul for accusing him of wrongdoinng, not because he knew that Anna was alive.

    • According to an interview with the director as shown on the film’s DVD, Anna was alive, and there are many clues throughout that point to this. Just before Anna’s accident, she is being tailgated by a white van that we later learn belongs to Deacon. About 60 minutes into the movie, Anna is in a room with Deacon with a mirror. She admits that she looks like a corpse, closes her eyes, and exhales. Her breath fogs up the mirror, which Deacon wipes away before she reopens her eyes. When Paul is at the police station, one of the cops mentions that a drug exists that could slow heartbeat to almost nothing and cause paralysis. When we see Deacon giving Anna an injection shortly after, the vial has the same name on it. Note that it is pointless to inject a corpse with anything because there is no blood flow and therefore no way to circulate a drug through the body. There is also the scene between Anna and Deacon where she sees her breath condensation on the handheld mirror and panics, screaming “You lied to me!” Deacon is in fact a psychopath, who takes it upon himself to decide who gets to live. The final clue is when Deacon puts Anna’s picture on his wall, and we pan out to see all of the pictures. Some of the people have eyes open, other eyes closed. Wojtowicz-Vosloo says that those whose eyes were open were, like Anna, ones who were not really dead.

    • Excellent synopsis!! Well done

  22. Damn, this movie is horrifying i don’t think liam is the bad guy anyway, i think he just have this third eye or something that enable him to talk to dead people. Dead people just don’t admit or take that they are already dead proparably from accidents.

  23. Surely she was dead. Most of the clues do indicate that she is alive, but that is how movies are done. The main indication that she is dead, I think, is the scene with the mirror. She looks into the mirror and she sees a corpse. When we see her, we see her in normal skin color, when we see her reflection – she has a zombie-like skin color, with black nails (you saw her fingers, right, that’s important).

  24. There was actually evidence of both, her being alive and her being dead. That’s what makes this a crappy movie, it could go either way.

  25. No matter if some one searches for his necessary thing, thus he/she needs
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  26. The interesting thing about this film is its unintentional genius. It’s poor making in conflicting, blatant “hints” and attempts to constantly pull the viewer back and forth on whether Anna is dead or not… And the numerous sidetrack stories that go no where leave the viewer confused and thinking about it. So then they discuss and pontificate about every detail, many which I doubt the movie had intentionally, but were result if poor movie making.

    Hands down this could have been a good film with the actors, plot and twists, but it asks you to use logic in figuring out its “twist” but completely ignore that same logic with the incongruencies and impossibilities of the film.

    There’s much I could write about on ” wtf’s” in it, but there are two important parts. One Anna was alive as she was being convinced she was dead. While there are many hints the fact is the pictures of people in their caskets with their eyes open are those the funeral director killed – those with eyes shut died in other ” normal” manners. The definite clue for me was the first victim that we see – the piano teacher – has his eyes open in his picture, so we know he was killed by the funeral director – Anna sees his mouth open at the funeral. But we see the funeral director sewing together a real corpse mouth so it can’t open at the funeral. Apparently (and obviously) he doesn’t prepare the live victims in the same manner for the funeral and Anna’s mouth wasn’t sewn.

    Second the boy Jack IS dead. His picture of him in the casket with his eyes closed is not an accident. It just is shown too quickly and not repeatedly referenced such as the thermostat. That is what makes this movie interesting – if Jack is dead is the funeral director dead too? Is this some role they play in the afterlife which is both a curse and an honor? Was the intent just for this role to help the true dead cross over and the director warped as some fallen archangel? Or was this role always intended to help purge the world of the living dead? Or pose to those half living a test of sorts to let them choose their fate? It sure helps explain a lot of the incongruencies in the story. But of course maybe it was a fluke and didn’t intend to mean anything.

    All a good movie but unsatisfying to viewers. A part 2, as others have mentioned, to help clean part 1 up and carry out a strong story is much needed.

    • Interesting theory .. I could agree … maybe …

  27. I think they are all dead….i’m sure for a fact that Anna and the little boy are…if you recall the picture of him and the 2 times he came home and told his mom she forgot to pick him up from school…she kinda had this look like she heard someone come in the door but she wasn’t quite sure…I was thinking at first that she was drunk or something but when I seen his pic it all made sense that she was probably still mourning his death.

  28. As was pointed out above:
    Anna was alive.

    But I would like to point out additional things, things that others seem to have missed.

    It looks like the chronology in the movie is intentionally made with disrupts. Everything we see that isn’t obvious hallucinations, is true, and happened. But it doesn’t sometimes happen in the timeline we expect or that we see.

    Obviously this is such because we sometimes see scenes from a person’s perspective, and these persons often have been drugged, and have mixed memories. When drugged, they have flashbacks mixed with hallucinations and nightmares. Ones like Paul has.

    While driving, Paul has a stressful and dangerous moment and then his memory seems to become erratic. He exhales “backwards”, as if something is being played backwards. This is where we can understand his memory is mixed.

    Some facts are there though.

    Paul DID get to Anna and freed her.
    However, Paul was taken down after.
    I believe he was shot down because of the looks of his wound.
    This is the main thing that led me on this conclusion.

    This wound in the middle of his chest surely doesn’t look like one from a car accident. A car accident would also have let his shirt in a lot worse status. It looks like a bullet wound. It may be something else, but in this case, he was pierced in the middle of his chest, and not hit anywhere else. This is his only wound and his head is intact.

    Paul was shot down or pierced with something just after he freed Anna.
    It is almost obvious that he was shot in the back and that the bullet got through him, hence the hole and blood coming the way it did and not staining all his chest skin. However I saw no obvious hole in his shirt. Which is confusing, for a car accident or a bullet. But we see no dirt either, or marks, which would have occurred with a car crash, especially against a tree, especially at the speed he was having if it happened as Elliott tries to make us believe.

    After taking Paul down, Elliot arranged an accident with Paul’s car, put the drug into Paul, before calling the emergency services.

    After that, Elliot parked his own van further, and watched out with Jack as the emergency vehicles come by. That’s when Jack asks if “this is over” and Elliott says “yes”. The emergency services believed Paul dead and that was it. For all we know, this scene could even have occurred after they ended Paul’s life downstairs, with the emergency vehicles taking Paul from his supposed “car accident” and ué to the hospital, but I believe it happened before Elliott ended Paul’s life downstairs .

    This is what I understood of Paul’s fate.
    People will of course think of a suicide.

    Jack’s fate, or past, is more unclear to me.