Wednesday, September 23, 2015

After (2012)

After a horrible bus crash following a cringeworthy meeting between two strangers (who happen to live down the street from each other, and grew up together), Freddy and Ana (that's "Awna", not "Anna") wake up to find themselves alone in a town that appears to be completely abandoned. (Note: I probably would have enjoyed this scene more if it weren't for the fact that it is extremely derivative of 28 Days Later, even down to the music - which, rather than being a welcome homage, ended up just being really distracting). They come across a surreal wall of black smoke that is reminiscent of "The Nothing" from The Neverending Story (great idea!). Unfortunately for them, it's less of an advancing stormfront than it is the eye of a hurricane, and it's closing in around them, little by little.

You kinda get the feeling that this could have been a really cool movie in the hands of professionals. There are some nice touches, like when a character remarks that it's getting dark early, on account of the proximity of the wall of smoke, or when they use a scientific approach in determining how long it will take to absorb the city. But then there are some clich├ęs, too, like when the car won't start once they realize the wall of smoke is moving. Surely, a competent writer could think up some other, more plausible mechanism by which to introduce suspense; or, at the very least, establish that the car is unreliable prior to this scene - indicating that the smoke affects the battery after the fact doesn't really cut it. And are we really supposed to believe that Freddy can build pipe bombs just because he was "kind of a pyro in high school"?

To say more about the movie involves spoiling some of its surprises, so be warned. I really like the idea of fantasy elements from a person's imagination coming to life - and the explanation behind this movie's strange setup certainly makes that a plausible mechanism. I also like the idea of having to confront or overcome traumas that have lain dormant in one's sub- or semi-conscious mind - that's very Silent Hill-esque. Albeit, the whole karma angle is kind of hokey. Madison Lintz (fresh off of The Walking Dead in this role) is adorable as the younger version of Ana, even though you have to wonder how she went from a blonde kid to a raven-haired adult. It's not as though hair dye doesn't exist, but it's a bit of a disconnect when you're trying to establish one character as the younger version of another, and they don't even look superficially similar.

The special effects are a little iffy, but not a complete washout. (Speaking of which, this movie is filmed mostly in desaturated hues, which suits the story and themes, but gets kind of dull after awhile). The wall of black smoke looks great, but once the characters go into it, it looks an awful lot like FMV from a PC game from the '90s. Then you have the monster - little more than a growling chain in its first appearance, although you get to see more of it later - which sounds like it's going to be huge, but then turns out to be just the size of a man. The design is plenty cool enough, but when it moves around, it does tend to look like bad CG. Finally, the movie kind of misses the boat of its cool premise by emphasizing the romance at its center in the end (not really believing it). Ultimately, this is a movie with some really great ideas, but only mediocre execution.

No comments:

Post a Comment