Wednesday, May 27, 2015
There are no A-List actors in this production but it has a few familiar supporting actors to make the audience comfortable with the premise, which is a unique take on life-death-and what might come after.
Act 1: Scene 1: “After” opens with our two protagonists Ana (Karolina Wydra) and Freddy (Steven Strait) the only passengers on a bus bound for the small town of Pearl. They were both raised in Pearl mere blocks apart yet their paths had never crossed until now; or so they think.
The bus trip is cut short due to a severe crash with Ana finding herself awakening in her own bed and late for her job as a nurse in the local hospital. Once she arrives she is surrounded by eerie silence and a total absence of patients and hospital staff. Running outside and through the streets she realizes she is totally alone until she happens upon Freddy also in the streets searching for some kind of life other than his own. It is then they notice the total silence, not even a bird tweet or a cricket chirp. They also suddenly notice that their small hamlet is completely surrounded by a menacing dark and impassable monstrous swirling hurricane cloud that is ever so slowly enveloping Pearl.
They boldly enter the black mass and within find a stone doorway that requires a special key to unlock it, however, also within that revolving mass of death is a monster, chained and hungering for their flesh. They realize the monster holds the key to the door and must be slain in order to gain their freedom - what they also learn about Ana at this time moves the two ever closer as their true past connection is slowly unveiled.
“After” is a fine film that I find surprising didn’t get any hype three years ago when it first came out of the studio and onto the theatrical market. Whether it was due to the lack of big names behind it or a depleted public relations purse that held it back may never be known at this stage of the game, however, Netflix has resurrected the film and has made it available once again for public viewing.
I recommend “After” as a nicely blended mixture of science fiction, horror, suspense and romantic drama and a real credit to director Ryan Smith and co-writer Jason Parish. They hit a home-run with this project. It is sad that the stands were not filled to capacity to witness the achievement. Perhaps Netflix’s re-releasing of the film will give it new breath so that more fans of the genre can enjoy it and spread the word.
“AFTER” receives a worthy * * * * out of 5 stars
Without Anne Meara and Jerry Stiller it is likely there would have been no Second City TV, the Groundlings, the Not Ready For Prime Time Players and every other famed improvisational group of note. She helped lay the foundation for that style of comedy.
Anne also was quite the dramatic actress having starred in HBO’s “Oz,” as well as other TV projects and film. She made her sci-fi/fantasy debut in her son Ben’s film “Night At The Museum” and even starred in the horror feature “Highway To Hell.”
Anne Meara and Jerry Stiller were married for 61 years. She was 85 at her passing.