There are several ideas out there of what happens after someone dies. The new dark romantic comedy, Here After, has its own proposition for the afterlife. Those who are single when they pass away are sent to a Purgatory where they must find their soulmate in order to cross over but only have a limited time to do it.
That’s the position Michael (Andy Karl) finds himself in after dying in a serious auto accident. After being informed of how his soul can cross over to the other side by a heaven bureaucrat Scarlett (Christina Ricci), Michael sets out in New York City to find his true love. If you thought dating was difficult before, imagine the urgency of finding your “someone” with these stakes involved. People are less likely to give you their time if there’s no initial connection. Michael’s chances at salvation become complicated when the woman of his dreams, Honey Bee (Nora Arnezeder), happens to still be alive.
There’s a lot to enjoy about Here After. Early on the film gets reflective with real substance as Michael visits his apartment and listens in on his family reminiscing about him. It’s not all rainbows and lollipops but you really feel his parents and sister loved him and didn’t see him as a disappointment. When our lead visits his old friend Angelo (Michael Rispoli), who is also recently dead, he receives more answers about their predicament and Angelo has an interesting perspective on the situation. Rispoli is entertaining in the role and imbues his character with a likeable low life vibe.
For an indie film, the special effects are a little hit and miss. Visually, there’s an angelic and heavenly aura in Scarlett’s office. It’s a nice added touch that while she talks with Michael, you can see people outside the window ascend into heaven. However, the shadowy and out of focus figures of the living and the blurred-out televisions seem a little low budget.
The most intriguing aspect is exploring the dynamic between Honey Bee and Michael, especially since the former is still living. Karl and Arnezeder have good chemistry as you watch the relationship develop between the characters and how Michael can overcome his conflict. Although it is a little difficult to root for the main character because either due to the writing or acting, he doesn’t come off as very likeable and can be a little whiny when he’s looking for answers.
The ending takes a very sudden dark turn. Even though it builds to the moment and isn’t exactly surprising, the shift in tone is a bit jarring and maybe not completely in line for a romantic comedy. Also, all the confusion and franticness in those final scenes don’t help either.
Here After is an uneven film that has some interesting ideas and concepts that bring something fresh to your typical rom-com but disappoints in the execution.
Here After is available On-Demand everywhere.