AfterDeath opens with a first person view of a woman waking up on a beach half in the water. She feels for her pulse but she has none. We’re disorientated as she is panicking and stumbling around in a daze. Then pillars of black smoke begin exploding out of the ground, she runs, climbs a cliff and finds an old house in the middle of a field, inside of which black smoke swirls whilst attractive twenty-somethings have sex. It’s all rather hellish, and that isn’t a coincidence as this is the land of the dead, a kind of purgatory for a group of lost souls who may just be connected.
Thankfully this horror doesn’t spend ages trying to build to the ‘they’ve been dead all along!’ reveal, it gets that over with in the first five minutes. It then just spends its time with some interesting world building that includes a house built of collective memories and a lighthouse which, when caught in its rotating light, paralyses you with pain, reaching deeply into their souls and unconscious minds. It really strives to tackle the themes of life, death and religion with some depth rather than just paying them lip-service and focusing on cheap scares.
Not that the film doesn’t have its cheap elements; it finds a satisfying explanation for the attractiveness of its cast but cannot escape the horror stereotypes of poor dialogue and broadly drawn characters. The cast does a good job with the script but cannot overcome these pitfalls in the script, which is a shame but is far from a deal-breaker. This is a fun and promising directorial debut which strikes out in its own direction, testing out its ideas and shaking things up. Not everything lands as you might like it to but there’s a lot of promise here and its a good time whilst it lasts.
AfterDeath is released on VOD in the UK from October 19th through FrightfestPresents. Will you be checking it out? Let us know in the comment box below!