After... (2006)
By: J.R. McNamara on August 7, 2009  | 
DVD
Madman (Australia). Region 4, PAL. 1.78:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 5.1, English DD 2.0. 76 minutes
The Movie
Cover Art
Credits
Director: David L. Cunningham
Starring: Daniel Caltagirone, Flora Montgomery, Nicholas Aaron
Screenplay: Kevin Miller, David L. Cunningham
Country: USA
External Links
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Before I review a film for Digital Retribution I like to do a little bit of research into the writer and director to see if I have seen any films they've made, just to try and get a feeling of whether I have liked their other work. I find it gives me a point of reference for the film I am reviewing, especially if they aren't well known horror auteurs. In the case of this film, with director David L. Cunningham's After..., I was happy to watch as the director's next film was one that I quite enjoyed, the fantasy film The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising.

Tragically, while watching this film, my happiness was quickly turned to a big festering bag of disappointment.

After... tells of three extreme sportspeople, Nate (Daniel Caltagirone) his wife, Addy (Flora Montgomery) and her brother, Jay (Nicolas Aaron) who, after a BASE jump, decide to travel to Russia for a bit of urban exploration, an extreme sport where the participants travel to hard to get urban environments, just for the thrill of it. The three are travelling to Moscow for two reasons: to explore the abandoned undergroundrailway - Stalin's Metro 2, and to find the hidden torture chambers of Ivan the Terrible. Nate though is suffering quite badly from the loss of his daughter, who was abducted and murdered, but still is soldering on to this preplanned trip.

So armed with maps and various equipment, the three descend into the train tunnels to try and find their subterranean destinations, but as they go further and further down, Nate starts to act twitchy, seeing things that aren't there, and generally experiencing things that the others aren't baring witness to, including images of both his daughter and her murderer/ bducter. His claustrophobia and general unease becomes real when they are suddenly persued by both tramps that are seemingly effected with radiation sickness, and a group of trigger-happy Russian soldiers, but things go completely haywire when Jay is killed, and his body disappears into thin air. Is Nate dreaming the whole thing, or is it really happening to him? Either way, how can he and Abby escape? Will they escape at all?

First I will start with the positives of this film. The actors are believeable, and execute their roles with a great deal of skill, and the score is excellent. Tragically, their talent is let down though by a combination ofhard to watch visuals and editing that could have been done with a blender. The films is difficult to watch as it was shot not just with usual filmmaking means, but also with the characters head and hand mounted cameras - this footage is incorporated into the traditional photography, along with some security camerafootage, to create a poor and at times confusing effect. I appreciate the fact that this was an attempt to achieve a sense of of claustrophobia, fear and confusion, but they took the effect to the nth degree, and it went from the desired unsettling to just annoying.I will not say that Cunningham is untalented, because as I said earlier, I enjoyed his work on his succeeding film, but this is just a chore to watch.

I must admit that if I had hired this film, I would have turned it off half way through... and perhaps asked the video shop for a refund.
Video
The DVD transfer for this film was excellent, and presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio with 16:9 enhancement. The problem with the film was that the shakiness of the hand and head mounted cameras made it almost unbearable to watch at times. I'd even go so far as suggesting that epileptics DON'T watch this film in case the frenetic filmmaking causes fits!!
Audio
The audio is presented in Dolby 5.1 and is a decent presentation. I also have to admit to being somewhat of a fan of The Crystal Method, who provided the score, so I did find that a plus for this film.
Extra Features
There needs to be a way of typing that 'loser' sound effect that everyone knows, that was made popular on Family Feud… you know the one: 'Bup-bowwwwww'. We all do it whenever someone does something stupid, or loses at a game, or in this case, gets a suck-load, rather than a truckload of extras. This DVD has a trailer for the main feature, and then four trailers for other Madman releases: Ask The Dust, Narco: The Adventures of Gustav Klopp (which I think I might have to track down… it looks amusing), The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada and The Method.

There was something that I found disappointing about this release, and I have to admit to be extraordinarily pedantic here, but the person who wrote the blurb on the back of the DVD cover must not have watched the film. There is a glaring mistake made in the description of the film that says to me that someone couldn't have been bothered watching film before writing the blurb. To me that is either lazy writing, lazy editing or just basically crap on behalf of the normally exceptional Madman company.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
If the filmmakers intention was to make an incredibly claustrophobic film to reflect the extreme sport the main characters are involved in and the state of mind of the main character, mission accomplished. If the filmmakers intention was to make a film that outshakes The Blair Witch Project, then I say mission accomplished again. If the filmmaker's intention was to make an entertaining film...fail!

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