Film Review: After She Died
Fear Forever is excited to be back on the scene of fresh Australian horror! Cranked Up Films and Good Deed Entertainment have brought us AFTER SHE DIED– An Australian Bushland twist on the horror of Pet Sematary. An emotionally and viscerally engaging first feature film from writer-director Jack Dignan, whose industry credentials include work on Hollywood productions such as THOR: LOVE AND THUNDER and FURIOSA.
High school graduate Jen is feeling increasingly isolated. Her mother just passed away- leaving her relationship with her father in pieces- and all her friends are moving on from their small town. Not long after they bury her mother, Jen’s father introduces her to his new girlfriend, Florence. And not only is Florence’s behaviour odd and, at times, disturbing, but she looks and sounds identical to Jen’s dead mum.
While I mentioned PET SEMATARY, in no way did I find AFTER SHE DIED to be derivative or stale. On the contrary, it gives horror fans a lot to chew on: some savage and bloody practical effects, a heaping dose of body horror and a high intensity third act well with witnessing.
AFTER SHE DIED serves up some killer visuals when it delves into the realm of fantasy, embracing the haunting effects of Australian forests when setting up a creative depiction of a purgatory-like place. These sequences are certifiably creepy, with a mix of gum trees and fire that might spike a chill, particularly for Australian audiences, and a unique grim reaper figure.
At times the mythology behind some of the plot points was a little hard to decipher. The film left some questions without answers, but for the most part, these holes were swept up as the film continually raised its stakes. Having hard choices for characters and understandable motives brings some nuance to a genre where splitting up for no reason is a classic move.
With a cast ranging from established and experienced actors to those just bursting onto the scene, AFTER SHE DIED has a grassroots charm about it- and it makes for a lot of fun performance wise. Vanessa Madrid not only manages to pull off more than one character but brings major uncanny valley level creepiness to Florence that ranges from eerie to completely deranged. Liliana De La Rosa is great in her lead role as Jen, and she brings out the film’s themes of loss, grief and terror in her performance. So does her supporting cast- as a fellow Australian, they make me pretty stoked for our indie horror scene at the moment.
With its distinctive mix of English and Castilian Spanish dialogue, AFTER SHE DIED could work to change international audience views of Australia’s demographics. Its diverse casting and back story of cultural identity amidst the gristly stuff felt effortless and meaningful, which is more than can be said for most films.
AFTER SHE DIED would be a great choice if you’re after a fresh-faced or indie alternative scary movie to watch this Halloween. Or, if you’re a hardcore fan and are planning a whole month of Halloween viewing- add it to your list. AFTER SHE DIED is available On Demand now from most platforms. It also screens as a part of A Night Of Horror International Film Festival in its hometown of Sydney.
“some savage and bloody practical effects, a heaping dose of body horror and a high intensity third act well with witnessing”