The Here After – BFI LFF 2015 Review

There’s an excellent and daring premise to the Swedish debut feature The Here After from writer director Magnus Von Horn. A young male teen released from a correctional facility for a heinous crime we are unaware of who is brought back home where family and the small town are not so certain the warrant of his release. Initially the audience is hooked to know what John, Ulrik Munther, is guilty of as the people in the town are openly disdainful. John’s presence fills almost every scene with tension, whether he might present the danger or fall victim to someone’s vengeance.

Once the big reveal is disclosed, John is fairly stripped from any empathy, especially giving his lack of remorse and erratic behaviour. Whilst the tension remains, the suspense is often wasted. You are left waiting and anticipating for an event to explode but it appears that Von Horn wishes The Here After to remain understated. It’s hard to ascertain whether Von Horn is trying to make a statement or evoke debate. There is a clear absence of matriarchal figures throughout that may or not be relevant to an assumption to a lack of discipline and craving for violence. Constructed via tediously long takes and cancerous pace, Von Horn is clearly gunning for art house status but has done so with a film that is likely to be forgotten quickly that might only be remembered as an opportunity missed.

*

Chris Aitken

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