Premiering at FrightFest 2012 After stuck out like a crisp white suit in a sea of blood stained t-shirts. You see, this is a fantasy romance horror that lacks the blood, gore and horrific torture scenes of many of the other movies featured in this years 5 day horror film festival.
But this was no bad thing and I for one was happy to watch something slightly less rapey after the barrage of brutality I had endured over the past few films. However, against a crowd sometimes quite literally baying for blood After didn’t really receive the reception it deserved.
Aiming to be more intelligent and emotionally moving than most, After tells the story of a couple of coach crash crossed strangers who awake in an even stranger situation, finding that their entire town is empty save an ominous fog which is engulfing everything in its path.
Working out quickly that they are both still in comas after the accident, Freddy and Ana (played by Steven Strait and Karolina Wydra) set about trying to find a way to escape, discovering a door through the fog which resembles a drawing that Freddy did when his was younger.
Unfortunately it seems that the key to the door is contained within a crazed monster created from Ana’s childhood imagination. The pair must fight not only this aberration but also the ghosts of their own pasts – which keep reappearing – if they ever want to escape the world they have created and get back to reality.
Playing out part Pan’s Labyrinth and part Stephen King’s The Langoliers what After gets right against other movies using this idea is that it doesn’t delay in revealing the situation that the characters are trapped in, being that it is blindingly obvious from the start what has happened.
Crafting an interesting story from the pasts of the pair (one of which contains a childhood trauma they have never really handled) the romance element is more to the fore than the horror although the monster itself is realised with some impressive effects helping bolster the scares side somewhat.
Slightly cheesy at times, especially the ending, After is reasonably well acted, written and directed and is effective and original enough to keep audiences (except FrightFest audiences that is) entertained, walking a tight rope between romance and fantasy horror well throughout.
The perfect film for any couple who often disagree on movies After contains enough of a balance of genres to keep both parties happy, ending any arguments you may have on what to watch. It may even work to introduce a whole host of new fantasy horror haters into expanding their film watching towards something more frightening.