Reesa Ponders How Boring After.Life Can Be

A school teacher is having a bad day. Her boyfriend needs reassurance of her love but she just can’t seem to respond. After an argument before dinner, she stomps out of the restaurant and into the pouring rain. She loses control of her car and before you know it, she wakes up on a mortuary slab where she asks, “Where am I?” and gets the answer, “You are Dead”.

Anna (Christina Ricci) is walking through her daily schedule in a haze. One of her young students is particularly focused on her. He asks her if he can attend the funeral of her old piano teacher. At the funeral home, she thinks she sees the corpse open his mouth for a second. Odd - are her eyes playing tricks? She is also experiencing unexplained nosebleeds and is seeing flickering lights. Meanwhile, her boyfriend Paul (Justin Long) is being transferred and wants to pop the question on their dinner date. He doesn’t get that far when she assumes that he’s breaking up with her. They begin to bicker and she storms off in a huff, jumping in her car in the pouring rain. Having a change of heart, she searches for her cell phone when a white van clips her and she spins out of control.

When she gains consciousness, mortician Eliot Deacon (Liam Neeson) tells her calmly that she is dead. He’s preparing her for her funeral. He tells her that he has the ability to communicate with souls who are trapped between life and final death. She feels alive and can hear him, but can’t hear her own heartbeat or feel her pulse. He injects her with something that he says will help her muscles relax and stop the progression of rigor. She later discovers she can move and can move things around her.

Deacon is all peace and calm talking with family members of the deceased with grave concern and politeness. He also talks to the bodies that he is readying for viewing. He takes pictures of them and attaches them to bags with their personal belongings - like a memory book in the closet. He tells Anna the dead are like his children that he’s preparing for the next life. But is she really dead? And what’s that stuff he’s injecting into her?

This is the feature debut by director Agnieszka Wojtowicz-Vosloo, who also wrote the script with her husband, Paul Vosloo, and Jakub Korolczuk. The mood is slow, deliberate, and the music punctuates with a pulsating beat just in case you didn’t know this was supposed to make you jumpy. Neeson is wonderfully creepy as the über undertaker saying lines like, “You all say you're scared of death. But the truth is you're more scared of life.” Justin Long runs around freaking out, trying to figure out why he said yes to be in this movie. Like one friend said, she kept waiting for him to show his Mac. Christina Ricci staggers around on unsure legs like an alien. She’s quiet lovely, but it feels like mortuary porn while she lays around in a little red dress or lounging stark naked on the slab. Add in the creepy little boy who becomes Deacon’s protégé and the movie is still a muddled mess. (Review by Reesa Cruz Hawkins of Dallas Movie Screenings)