AfterThought DVD Review
Written by Joe Ripple
Directed by Douglas Elford-Argent
Written by Wendy Elford-Argent
2006, Region 1, 85 minutes, Not rated
Wendy Elford-Argent as Christy Dawson
Kristian Capalik as Kyle Walker
Cal Thomas as Elliott Smithe
Bobbi Jean Basche as Mindy Mariner
James Symington as Chief Howard Dixon
A young lady is somehow able to have visions — both awake and asleep — involving a spirit of a young boy, while her high school friends are being murdered around her.
Take one part Scream, one part The Grudge and two parts of "Ghost Whisperer," mix thoroughly and apply to the screen…
In the independent films of today, a common reoccurring theme has always been the availability of something I like to call the "teen" angle. Why does this work so well? In most regards, for the following reasons:
Nobody will listen to them, even though they're right, and being a teen in and of itself has immense pressures. I'm sure we can remember the days of trying to fit in, and trying to find out where we belong in the universe. Even when we knew the correct answer to a difficult question, we were looked upon as children…and, according to some adults, we didn't know jack.
What director Douglas Elford-Argent has done, is take this very simple concept and ramp it up a bit. Our lead in AfterThought, Christy Dawson (played wonderfully by Wendy Elford-Argent), becomes haunted by visions of the spirit belonging to a young boy, who is about ten years old. This restless soul foretells our heroine of shenanigans and evil goings-on.
It turns out that this boy-meets-girl, boy-is-afraid-to-ask-girl-out, girl's-friends-start-dying, boy's-friend turns-on-him-boy-gets-arrested-killings-continue story is more than just plot, more than substance, more than a redux of everything that one can expect from a teen paranormal slasher movie.
The film is absolutely beautiful to watch.
Let's talk about the actual hard parts of independent film: Acting, locations and cinematography.
The acting in this film is top-notch. Especially the parts played by the teens. To say the acting by Kristian Capalik as Kyle Walker, Bobbi Jean Basche as Mindy Mariner, and Cal Thomas as Elliott Smithe rivals Hollywood would be a proper, well placed statement — one that I would feel comfortable saying. Some of the adult parts were a bit dry, but palatable. The police scenes were slightly skewed, but not so much that it would not be believable. There were plenty of extras that were used quite well, and this improved the film on an immense scale.
The locations were good, and even when the scene actually involved a house of a friend, it seemed to fit perfectly into the story. In other words, none of the locations seemed to be thrown in to substitute for something that could not be found. Even utilizing an actual jail cell was a plus. And believe me when I tell you that I used to walk many a prisoner into similar cells that were shown in this film. They were real, and the film gained tremendous production value because of this attention to detail.
The cinematography by Marc Menet was, for an independent film…incredible. Proper focus, not too washed out during the day shots, just dark enough on the night shots provided a wonderful canvas on which director Elford-Argent painted his story. At some points, I actually reversed the DVD, and watched the scene again with the volume muted… just so I could appreciate visually what was captured by the cinematographer.
The special effects were handled nicely. They were not done with reckless abandon, and were quite good. There was no nudity at all, and save for some of the language and violence, would probably garner a PG-13 if it were to be rated.
Had the story been a little stronger, the editing just a bit tighter, and the theme not so overdone, I would have given this film five stars out of five. But do not be mistaken by these slight drawbacks. AfterThought sets the bar for other indie horror films when it comes to acting and cinematography. It belongs on the shelf of every horror fan that appreciates independent film.
Video, Audio and Special Features:
Video, audio and special features will not be graded as this is a screener. However, the score should be mentioned as it adds the proper tension when needed. Ted Williams, who scored the recent box office success 300, directs the music here.
(Viewed on a 70 inch Sony HD Television, with Bose Dolby 5.1 surround sound. Played on a Sony DVP-NS700P Progressive Scan DVD player, with a Yamaha HTR 5450 Cinema D Special Receiver.)
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