After.Life is a 2009 American suspense film starring Liam Neeson, Christina Ricci and Justin Long, directed by Agnieszka Wójtowicz-Vosloo from her original screenplay.
Middle school teacher Anna Tailor (Christina Ricci) attends a funeral for a colleague. There, Anna encounters the solemn owner of the funeral home, Eliot Deacon (Liam Neeson). One night, after arguing with her boyfriend Paul (Justin Long), Anna gets in a traffic accident.
Anna wakes up dazed, confused and numb. She finds the morgue director, Eliot, cleaning her wound and telling her she has died. He tells her he has a gift, to assist the dead crossing over; to help them accept their deaths. Later in the funeral home, Eliot is revealed to have a collection of photographs of corpses, it is implied that he helped each to cross over, and speaks to them. Eliot injects Anna regularly with a chemical to “relax the muscles and keep rigor mortis from setting in.”
Anna attempts to escape several times but is unsuccessful; Eliot tells her she must let go of life, as she had not really been living anyway. Eventually, she steals Eliot’s keys, escapes, and finds a room with a phone, intent on calling Paul for help. Paul is unable to hear her properly and hangs up thinking it’s a prank. Anna comes to believe that she actually is dead when Eliot allows her to look in a mirror and she sees herself looking corpse-like. She does not notice that her breath leaves fog on the mirror and Eliot quickly wipes away the evidence. Outside, one of Anna’s students sees her and relays the information to Paul, who becomes suspicious that she is still alive.
During the final preparation for the funeral, Anna asks Eliot if she can see herself one last time in the mirror. Eliot holds up a small mirror, but while she stares at herself, she exhales and notices her breath condensing on the glass. Suddenly concerned that Eliot has been lying to her, she begins to believe she has been alive all along. Eliot injects her one last time with chemicals to make her numb. It is seen that Eliot is in fact injecting Anna with Hydronium Bromide, a chemical mentioned earlier as being able to induce conditions that mimic death.
After the funeral, Paul drinks heavily, telling Eliot he knew Anna was not dead. Anna is shown awakening to the sound of earth being shoveled onto her coffin. She cries out as she struggles against death, desperately scratching the satin lining of her coffin lid until her fingers are bloody. As she slowly dies of suffocation, Eliot offers that Paul should go to the cemetery and find out whether Anna is actually dead or not, before it’s too late. Paul rushes to the cemetery, driving too fast and under the influence of alcohol. There is another ambiguous cut before he is shown to have dug up Anna’s grave, to find her alive. They embrace and Anna tells him “she has always loved him.” As they hug, Paul is curious about some rather unusual sounds he hears; Anna explains it’s the sound of Eliot’s gloves and scissors on the table as he prepares Paul’s body. Paul sees Anna literally disappear from his embrace, then sees the bright flash of headlights by the cemetery. A moment later, he finds himself in the funeral home with Eliot preparing his body. He says he saw Anna, but Eliot tells him he never made it to the cemetery due to a car accident that killed him. Paul claims just as vehemently as Anna that he is not dead, as they begin preparing his body, protesting that he is alive until the moment Eliot inserts the trocar deeply into Paul’s torso, an act which very obviously ends his life.
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First Published: Mar 29, 2013