Review: Toronto After Dark Film Festival – After
After should’ve been a straight to Netflix release (if that), but instead, it had its Canadian premiere at the Toronto After Dark Film Festival.
After is about Freddy (Steven Strait) and Ana (Karolina Wydra), two strangers traveling home on a bus who end up making small talk. After a loud noise and a black screen, Anna wakes up in her bed at home, late for work. She soon discovers that no one else is around – her hometown is completely empty. Except Freddy. They join forces, trying to find a way to escape an engrossing black cloud that has surrounded their town.
I mean, waking up to find yourself the last person standing is inherently scary. Probably the scariest, in fact. That alone should give writer/director Ryan Smith enough fuel for one interesting, ominous movie. That being said, After delivers no atmosphere, no tension, and no scares.
The script was one of the cheesiest thing I’ve heard in a long time. Ana sounded like that annoying friend you bring to the movies – always asking what’s happening and where is he going. I knew what they were going to say before they said it. On the whole, the film was as predictable and stale as its characters. With a few tweaks in tone, it could’ve made for one funny spoof.
Even worse, After really attempted to be deep and philosophical – playing with ideas of fate, memory, and other dimensions. With stronger writing, these ideas could’ve been fleshed out more effectively. As it stands, After didn’t draw any conclusions about the bigger questions, and didn’t really ask the audience to draw those conclusions for themselves, either. That all fell to the wayside with a cliche ending and by then, I was just happy that it was over.
Besides the poor writing, the acting wasn’t much better. Both Strait and Wydra over acted to the point of no return. Not to mention they had very little chemistry. This is a problem because their relationship is the foundation of the movie. I wasn’t rooting for them individually or together. And with an overbearing musical score that cues the audience when and what to feel, there wasn’t much room for anything genuine to transpire, either story-wise or character-wise.
To be honest, I’d rather be enveloped by a black fog than sit through After again. Skip this one and watch The Mist instead.
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