An Art house short film that tackles the difficult and confusing topic of death and what comes after; we review the short film An Afterlife.
An Afterlife is an unusual film indeed. From it’s quick and often jarring editing, to it’s (sometimes confusing) non-linear storytelling, An Afterlife is certainly a lot different from many films that land on our desk at the Screen Critix office, but that is no bad thing. In fact it’s very much welcomed.
Written and produced by Jeremy Rigby and directed by Ryan Neil Butler, An Afterlife revolves around a young man called Jason (Andrew Groundwater) who is in the process of being put to death by lethal injection. Jason’s crime is rather ambiguous, but we do get some quick flashes of him holding and pointing a revolver at someone off-camera, though we don’t know who, but it really doesn’t matter, this film is about people’s beliefs regarding the afterlife and the old adage of how “your life flashes before your eyes the moment you die”, and how it can feel like an eternity.
Butler and Rigby take a look at people’s different beliefs by staging some very different scenes within An Afterlife. At one point, the main characters which include Jason, his father John (Joss McWilliam), mother Mary (Linda Millar) and sister Sue (Kiki Townley) take part in a bizarre chat show within a cemetery, with John portraying the chat show host. Each talk about their own near-death experiences, which are then humorously poo-pooed by John, the non-believer.
As stated above, I found the quick scenes to be rather confusing at first, but by the end of the short it all become clear to me – everything I had seen had been in Jason’s head as the poison started to course through his veins. They were his last thoughts, his own afterlife, made up by his mind – past memories combined with figments of his imagination. I walked away from the film at the end thinking “wow, that was rather clever”. I don’t do that very often.
The performances by all of the actors are strong and they do very well with the material. Joss McWilliam will look familiar to many, which will probably be due to his previous roles in the hit Aussie soap opera Home & Away and in the teen drama H20: Just Add Water (which is available to watch now on Netflix).
The cinematography for An Afterlife was done by Matthew E. Taylor (500 Miles, Damaged) and for the most part, the film looks and plays great. I also really enjoyed the score by composer Caleb Jacobs – it had a synth vibe to it and suited the visuals well. One of the songs really reminded me of the track Intriguing Possibilites by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross from the movie The Social Network, which is no bad thing at all.
Overall, An Afterlife is interesting yet often ambiguous arty short film. It is well made and is deserving of your time. If given the opportunity, give it a watch and see if you come up with the same conclusion as ourselves.