The final film on Sunday at the 2012 Toronto After Dark Film Festival was After. There’s usually one film that I really don’t enjoy. Unfortunately, this was that film. That’s a shame since it looks so fantastic.
Freddy (Steven Strait) and Ana (Karolina Wydra) meet on a bus while traveling home one evening. There’s a terrible accident, but both survivors wake up in their own beds the next morning. They quickly find that they’re the only people left in their entire town, and a dark, black cloud is slowly closing in around them. Freddy and Ana must figure out why they’re the only ones left in town before the cloud envelops the town.
It is impossible to not see similarities between this film and movies like Silent Hill and The Mist. The Mist is about, well, mist, so you can see how the two seem similar. It’s the Silent Hill video game series that really feels similar by the end of this one though. If Pyramid Head had been in this movie, it would be hard to tell the difference. Such a shame that things couldn’t come together for this one. The idea is great, and the film looks incredible. It’s dark and gloomy, but still full of beautifully striking images throughout. They also try and avoid a tired final revelation by letting the audience know exactly why the characters are alone in town very early in the film. The final result just doesn’t make any sense, and you can’t ignore some of the unbelievable decisions that are made.
This is a movie that I disliked the more I talked about it. At first, I thought it wasn’t very strong and didn’t really do much with a strong concept. The more we discussed it, the more problems I kept finding with it. Had they just gone with a straight up graphic horror film, a terrible story could be ignored. That’s not the point here though. The story really wants to be something fantastic, but is full of holes. It certainly seemed to split the crowd. Some really liked it, others didn’t like it at all. For that reason, I wouldn’t want to spoil anything. At least they offer something that I’ve never really seen before, and avoid the obvious final twists that you are expecting to see.
It’s not even that the film is terrible and that’s why I dislike it. The reason I didn’t enjoy it was because you can tell that it should have been something spectacular, but wasn’t. The acting is well done, and Madison Lintz has a role as a young Ana which is great. They also manage to perfectly take what you’re expecting and flip it around, leaving you shocked at what’s happening. Separately, there are so many good points. Put everything together and you’re left wanting so much more. It’s hard to know who will find enjoyment here, so a recommendation is challenging. Watch it expecting some great visuals and you may find yourself enjoying the story. Just don’t assume you’re going to be blown away by the plot.
Under the marquee – Will