A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that After.Life -- a psychological horror film that's more depressing than it is scary -- features a female character who is nude or wearing a negligee throughout much of the film. She is also supposed to be dead, even though she's conscious, and is under the control of a creepy male undertaker who seems to drug her into submission. The movie explores death extensively and doesn't offer much in the way of hope or positive characters. It features a great deal of swearing (including "asshole," "s--t" and "f--k,"), drinking and drugs (including driving while intoxicated), and general, simmering anger. Also, an adult hits a child across the face in anger.
What's the story?
Schoolteacher Anna (Christina Ricci) isn't very happy. She pops pills and doesn't seem to get along with her boyfriend Paul (Justin Long). Just as he is about to propose to her, they fight, and she drives off in a rainstorm. She wakes up on a slab in a funeral home, where a soft-spoken funeral director, Eliot Deacon (Liam Neeson), informs her that she's dead. Eliot claims to have a "gift" that allows him to speak to dead people, but Anna doesn't know what to believe. Paul seems to think that Anna is still really alive and that Eliot has some kind of fiendish plan afoot. As Paul tries to unravel the mystery, Anna gets more and more confused, and so does the audience...
Is it any good?
Despite the appealing cast, an interesting ambiance, and some very ambitious subject matter, AFTER.LIFE doesn't really work either as a scary movie or as a food-for-thought cautionary tale. It's dreary and depressing, with a relentlessly negative, almost angry tone. The movie's message about finding a point to life is both overly simplistic and frustratingly muddled. And those looking for scares will find the movie lacking too -- when the infrequent scary parts pop up, they don't pack much of a punch.
Moreover, the movie has the feel of something that could be a wonderful Sixth Sense-like puzzle, but refuses to make anything clear or satisfying. With an ambigious ending, viewers might end up wondering, "What's the point?" For horror fans looking for something meatier than the usual fare, After.Life gives them something to chew on, but ultimately, it might leave a bad taste.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about whether the movie was scary or not. Can psychological thrillers sometimes be scarier than outright violent horror movies? Why? What different elements make a movie scary? How do you deal with feeing scared from movies or TV -- does it ever effect you after the movie or show is over?
Did Paul and Anna really love each other? If not, was that the reason they went through their ordeals?
- In theaters: April 9, 2010
- On DVD or streaming: August 2, 2010
- Cast: Christina Ricci, Justin Long, Liam Neeson
- Director: Agnieszka Wojtowicz-Vosloo
- Studio: Anchor Bay Entertainment
- Genre: Horror
- Run time: 95 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: nudity, disturbing images, language and brief sexuality.
For kids who love scary stuff
Our editors recommend
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.