"After.Life" a Lot of Dead Air

Somewhere in Agnieszka Wojtowicz-Vosloo's awkward debut feature is a macabre and almost quaint gothic mystery begging to be left alone. After blowing up at her boyfriend (Justin Long) over dinner, Anna (Christina Ricci) drives off and suffers a disastrous crash — then gets chatty on the mortuary slab. The funeral director (our friendly B-movie bear Liam Neeson) says she's a halfway-there soul that only he can hear, but what of the Deschanel-eyed spooky kid who thinks he saw her up and about in a synthetic-red slip? What might have played well as a multipage Poe rumination gradually gets pulled to bits by thudding Ricci-Neeson faceoffs in the poster-ready funeral-prep chamber and Long hissy fits over being denied access to his would-be fiancée's body. There's potential in the filmmaker's comfort with drawing out still moments and slipping into dark visions without drawing boundaries (and Ricci's ample naked lounging lends a certain continental touch). All of that just as easily turns into dead air and, by the end, a revelation telegraphed so unremarkably that it's hard to enjoy — not to mention Neeson's missed opportunity for vamping it up a little, what with a script that has him calling the corpses in his charge "you people!"


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