REVIEW: AFTER / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: RYAN SMITH / SCREENPLAY: VARIOUS / STARRING: STEVEN STRAIT, KAROLINA WYDRA, MADISON LINTZ / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
When two awkward people, Freddie and Ana, meet on an otherwise empty bus and discover that they grew up on the same street, they make awful small talk until the moment something crashes into their bus and everything goes dark.
Forget sundials, watches, mobile phones or calendars. Armpit hair is where it’s at for measuring time, and Ana uses just such an ingenious method to alert her, and us, to the fact that TIME HAS PASSED. Much as in 28 Days Later, Ana awakes in bed to find that her hometown is empty. It’s like the bus crash never happened, but then she inspects her armpit hair in the mirror – realising to her horror that many days have passed. 4 Inches of Armpit Later (or ‘After’) and she really has cause for that perplexed frown, one of a wide range of two facial expressions used in the film. We won’t tell you the other, as we’d hate to spoil it for you. She even dons a hospital gown, much like the guy in 28 Days Later, but that’s because she thinks she’s just late for her shift as a nurse.
Ana roams around for a while until finding Freddie in his home four doors up from her house. They drive out in Freddie’s car in search of others, heading into a gigantic wall of black swirling smoke, accompanied by cymbal clanging and spoo-ooo-oooky music. Deciding that the smoky hell doesn’t look like a good plan they drive back to town, where a diner from the past has reappeared, complete with customers and staff who can’t see the displaced pair. It turns out it’s a flashback. Ana watches herself (curiously as a child she was blonde, fair, and had a perfect American accent. In the present she’s dark-haired, olive-skinned and has a European accent. But who needs continuity!) and her aunt in the diner talking about a play little Ana has written.
Shortly after this, Freddie reveals that his beard growth was what alerted him to the fact that time had passed. Despite the fact he saw several displays that had the date on them. It’s like fate drew these two magical hairy time-tellers together. As if that wasn’t enough to showcase their epic skills, a montage scene involving a tape measure, a stopwatch (wait, I thought they just needed body hair?), a map, and a Biro lets the viewer know that the black smoke of doom is creeping in to engulf the town.
Some more things happen, like the ‘revelation’ that Freddie and Ana are probably in a coma, and a hilarious trip to a fantasy land door which has thousands of keys strewn around it. After a bit more investigation it turns out all the events have occurred in a comic Freddie drew as a kid and the play little Ana wrote. Then a strangely cute monster appears that looks like a really, really ugly Mutant Turtle crossed with the worm from Tremors.
OR IS IT ALL A DREAM? Urgh, too clever for me, but perhaps when I’m a little older, wiser, and hairier, I’ll be able to understand this mind-bendingly awful B-movie. Watch it just to say ‘awww’ when the cute monster appears.