Christina Ricci lovers, take note: the 30-going-on-20-year-old actress spends almost half of After.Life wearing nothing but a flimsy red slip, and most of the rest wearing even less. Sure, she’s pale, bruised, and possibly even playing a corpse, but that should only make the film more appetizing for the Tim Burton side of her fanbase (not to mention the Black Snake Moan droolers). Although everyone else will likely be disappointed by this plodding “which character is the crazy one?” thriller, collectors of her screen-caps should go ahead and “save” the film on Netflix now.
Ricci plays Anna Taylor, a far less appreciative girlfriend to Nice Guy Justin Long (stripped of his wit and reduced to a shouty, quivering pussy) than Alison Lohman was in Drag Me To Hell. Like Lohman’s ill-fated heroine, a traumatic automobile experience leaves her haunted by visions and fearing death, only the cackling gypsy is replaced by a genial mortician (Liam Neeson) who tries to convince her she’s already dead. Sam Raimi’s sadistic flair is also replaced by first-time director Agnieska Wojtowicz-Vosloo’s inept mix of portentous dream imagery (Ricci holding her heart out to Long, looming voids) and B-movie clichés (in one of the most absurd races against time in cinema history, Ricci can barely unlock a door in the time it takes Neeson to leave his isolated mortuary, get gas, and return).
Initially just an awkward slog (watching a serene Neeson discuss the need to accept one’s death is more than a little disturbing considering he lost wife Natasha Richardson mere months after filming), After.Life finally careens into incoherency with a frenzied Rosemary’s Baby homage involving animated vines and a coven of witches. Even for an ostensible hallucination, the sequence doesn’t make a lick of sense or connect to anything that precedes or follows. Thankfully, Ricci is fully-clothed in that moment, making future reminders of the scene unlikely.