Here’s the thing.

It’s great to love a movie so much that you write a rave review and hope against hope you’ll inspire other people to go see it.

And then there are the movies that you don’t love, that might even make you a little bit angry but they offend something so deep inside you that you still really want to write about them because you want to ask the question ‘why did the film makers think anyone ever wanted to see a (insert expletive here) piece of (insert expletive here) like this EVER get made?’

Call it the bipolar scale of film reviewing.

But then we come to ‘After’ and, as a reviewer, I’m in the place I really don’t like. The no-man’s land of having absolutely no opinion about a film other than to say that now I know what slipping into a coma feels like.

Actually, in retrospect, that might have been director Ryan Smith’s intention because (I don’t think it’s a spoiler, it’s revealed pretty early on in the movie) one of the two main characters discovers she’s actually in a coma while, in some alternate reality, she’s wandering around her inexplicably deserted town wandering what’s going on.

So if inducing a coma upon his audience was Ryan Smith’s aim, so that we could better appreciate what his annoyingly bland central characters are experiencing… congratulations. It’s mission accomplished.

Ana (Karolina Wydra) and Freddy (Steven Strait) are strangers who meet each other on an otherwise empty bus as they head through the night towards their hometown. She’s a nurse. He’s a comic book artist. She doesn’t want to talk to him. He won’t get the message. He draws a picture of her and manages to make her even more uncomfortable. But then he makes some charmless (that’s what I thought anyway) comment that for-no-apparent-reason makes her smile and manages to briefly break the tension. And then there’s a massive crash followed by darkness.

Ana wakes up at home. She drives through her empty town and arrives at the hospital where she works, which is also mysteriously devoid of people. She returns home and hears loud music belting out of the house further down the street. Someone else must be here! She goes to the house and finds Freddy, who’s turned up the music so high because he can’t stand the silence.

Together, they investigate what’s going on and discover a gigantic black cloud rolling in towards the town, surrounding the town on all sides, swallowing up all means of escape.

And inside the cloud something evil and monstrous lies in wait: a hideous beast that’s about to make a tragedy in Ana’s past a lot clearer, and pay Freddy back for a guilt he’s kept buried since childhood.

Okay.

You know those really bad television miniseries they adapt from Stephen King novels? The ones about small town life, where we take forever finding out about the unsuspecting ordinary folk whose destinies are about to be turned upside down by the evil that slowly shuffles up to engulf them?

And you know how, more often than not, the only way they’ll eventually be able to confront and destroy that evil is to face up to the sins of their past?

Oh yeah, and while we’re on the subject of Stephen King, do you remember a little novella he knocked out back in 1980 called ‘The Mist’?

Forget the novella. Frank Darabont wrote and directed a pretty good movie version of it back in 2007.

‘After’ is all the above, with the notable exception that instead of assorted townsfolk, most of the time we’re in the sole company of two of the most irritatingly whiny and ineffectual protagonists I’ve seen in a long time.  And there are also moments when it feels like a really bad children’s film.

It runs for ninety minutes, but it seemed like a lot longer. You know what the ending’s going to be pretty much as soon as it starts. The beast (and I’m trying really hard to say something positive here) looks pretty well conceived in long shots but completely falls apart in the final ‘confrontation’, when we get to see it up close in all its not-too-spectacular glory.

Critics with better survival instincts than me left within the first Act to spend some more useful and creative time at the bar.

I was one of those who sat through this turgidly paced, Stephen King-plagiarising, soap opera-dialogued mess hoping it would improve and knowing it couldn’t.

And if you still decide to see it because you’re one of those people who gets turned on watching paint dry, make sure you hang in until after the end credits have rolled.

Yep, ‘After’ even has a smug little tag scene stapled on at the end. It truly is the creature that refuses to die.

In fact, it’s so bad I can’t even have a proper opinion about it except to say… ho-hum…

‘After’. Ho-hum.

That’s my review.

Thank you for listening.

 

VERDICT: [rating=1]

About The Author

Ian White is an author, screenwriter and journalist. His book ‘Witchcraft and Black Magic in British Cult Cinema’ was recently published by Hemlock and he is a regular contributor to ‘Paranormal Underground’ and ‘Starburst’ magazines. He’s currently writing a new book and screenplay and his embarrassingly out-of-date website can be found at http://ianwhitelondon.wix.com/ian-white