After Life (2009)


After a near-fatal car crash, a beautiful woman is held against her will by a mad mortician who prepares living subjects for the grave, all the while convincing them that their consciousness is evidence not of life but of a transitional period between the two states...

Both ghoulish and high-falutin' in ways that may come to seem defining of us, this is well-made and mainly compulsive, though its essential purpose remains on a somewhat lower plane than its haughty metaphysics. Not really a thriller, despite suspenseful sections, it's basically an intense character piece with weirdo horror trimmings, presumably artfully tailored to the Twilight generation in its mix of morbid chic, lofty talk and emo pulchritude. Only at the ending, which attempts to raise and dash the viewer's hopes for a conventional resolution, does the essential cynicism of the enterprise give itself away.
For better or worse, though, it's an essential one for all fans of Christina Ricci, whose fearless (and, for long stretches of the film, nude) performance keeps it all watchable, if scarcely enjoyable in any traditional sense.