Austin Film Festival Review: AfterDeath


Director:Gez Medinger, Robin Schmidt

Cast:Miranda Raison, Sam Keeley, Daniella Kertesz, Elarica Gallacher

Running Time:88 Minutes


Getting trapped in a house with five friends can be tiresome.  Getting trapped in a house with five people you've never met before can be uncomfortably absurd.  For Robyn, after an unusual night of partying finds herself in the later situation, things couldn't be worse.  Walking in on a rather intense threesome, she is desperate to find some answers and get the hell out.

Gez Medler and Robin Schmidt's AfterDeath is a unique and intriguing film that follows five strangers who all appear to have died while partying at a bar when the building collapsed.  Desperate to find out just why they all landed on a beach next to a house in the middle of nowhere, each is forced to put aside their differences and work together to uncover a connection to can allow them to correct the situation and get back home.

Led by Miranda Raison as Robyn, the film boasts a small cast of five, all of whom pull their own weight and provide an adequate backbone to the story.  Credit stronger than expected dialogue, which pushes the story forward, refusing to allow it to settle in a stagnate position"”an easy feat when considering the film's single basic location.  Impressive special effects and cinematography only add to the experience, proving that low budget flicks can bring the guns when necessary.

While most horror films rely heavily on the jumps, AfterDeath opts to skip the gimmicks, creating situational tension of the unknown that digs deep into your psyche and drum up questions that realistically have no answers.  It isn't always what happens as much as what could happen.  The result generates an eerie feeling of painful uncertainty, heightened by a solid soundtrack that, if in the right frame of mind, will send chills down your back as you contemplate the grey area that exists between heaven and hell.

But for all the film does right, writer Andrew Ellard counters with his inability to end the damn thing effectively.  Throwing intelligence and common sense to the wind, Ellard works to wrap things up quickly, answering only a few questions and leaving the rest to die an abysmal death in the house from hell.  He disrespects his audience, assuming they don't care about the details by refusing to explain how and why the story works out as it does.

For those who merely want to be entertained, AfterDeath works.  It isn't anything extraordinary but it has some solid qualities that should appear to the masses.  Unfortunately an exhausted and rushed third act thwarts it from being the film its premise and audience deserves.


About Stephen Davis

Stephen Davis
I owe this hobby/career to the one and only Stephanie Peterman who, while interning at Fox, told me that I had too many opinions and irrelevant information to keep it all bottled up inside. I survived my first rated R film, Alive, at the ripe age of 8, it took me months to grasp the fact that Julia Roberts actually died at the end of Steel Magnolias, and I might be the only person alive who actually enjoyed Sorority Row…for its comedic value of course. While my friends can drink you under the table, I can outwatch you when it comes iconic, yet horrid 80s films like Adventures in Babysitting and Troop Beverly Hills. I have no shame when it comes to what I like, and if you have a problem with that, then we’ll settle it on the racquetball court. I see too many movies to actually win any film trivia contest, so don’t waste your first pick on me. My friends rent movies from my bookcase shelves, and one day I do plan to start charging. I long to live in LA, where my movie obsession will actually help me fit in, but for now I am content with my home in Austin. I prefer indies to blockbusters, Longhorns to Sooners and Halloween to Friday the 13th. I miss the classics, as well as John Ritter, and I hope to one day sit down and interview the amazing Kate Winslet.

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