Afterlife: Series One DVD Review
Written by Michel Sabourin
DVD released by BBC Home Entertainment
Written and directed by various
2005, Region 1 (NTSC), 282 minutes, Not Rated
DVD released on May 13th, 2014
Lesley Sharp as Alison Mundy
Andrew Lincoln as Robert Bridge
Kate Duchêne as Barbara Sinyard
The thing I hated the most about watching the first series of Afterlife is that I don't have the second to watch immediately. Afterlife is a whirlwind of emotions. At times chilling, emotionally captivating, but always developing a sense of wonderment at the world of a valid psychic medium. Lesley Sharp stars as Alison Mundy, a reluctant medium who can speak to the spirits after experiencing a severe injury in a train accident. Andrew Lincoln (of The Walking Dead fame) is the soft spoken professor and professional cynic who studies her abjectly. He thinks she's as fraudulent as all the others he's encountered and debunked, but she soon will give him cause to doubt his suspicions as much as he doubts her abilities. You see, the main spirit that needs her help is his deceased son.
The acting is above par. The conflict Lincoln's character, Robert Bridge, is feeling is writ large upon his features and flavors every sentence of dialogue. He's so hopeful for the real thing but afraid of being taken in by smoke and mirrors that he begins to float through life without really living it. Alison meanwhile is desperate to rid herself of this "gift" and just be a normal person. It's an interesting take on the character. Sort of how the kid in The Sixth Sense begins to understand that the people he sees mean no harm and just need help getting unstuck. If you're a The Walking Dead fan, it's a little strange seeing a much more subdued and quiet performance from Andrew Lincoln. Far less intense and moody, his professor is understated and emotionally troubled. The fact that he pulls both off equally convincingly is a testament to his acting skill.
While there's nothing terrifying about any of the six episodes in series one, it can be unsettling in parts – especially in the season finale, which sees Alison reunite with other survivors of the train crash to commune with their lost loved ones. It gets quite intense and ends appropriately enough with a cliffhanger that whets the appetite for more. Alas, I have to be patient and wait for the next release.
Video and Audio:
Shot for television initially, Afterlife still has the soft feel of a movie. The high resolution transfer is a touch grainy, but still looks sharp, although the scenes are often dark and gloomy. It features a dramatic soundtrack and eerie sound cues. All of it adds to the overall spooky atmosphere and makes the series even better.
The only special feature is an audio commentary for two of the episodes, featuring Andrew Lincoln, Lesley Sharp, Creator Stephen Volk and Producer Murray Ferguson. Fine and dandy, but I would have liked a more comprehensive commentary for all the episodes.