While seemingly at opposite ends of the emotional spectrum, horror and comedy can make for extremely comfortable bedfellows. Laughter and terror are two of the most visceral responses a filmmaker can hope to elicit from an audience and, when traversed correctly, the ground between them can prove dramatically fertile.
The fact that every seat at the press screening was adorned with a can of lager and a packet of crisps should be an instant clue as to what to expect from Drive Angry 3D – as if the insane trailer hasn’t been enough of a heads up. It’s a loud, brash, Saturday night kind of a movie, one that should be accompanied by a couple of beers and a large group of mates. If that’s what you’re after, then you’ll be in for a fine time; expect anything deeper – really, how could you with a title like that? – and prepare to be disappointed.
If his performance in 2008’s Gran Torino was Clint Eastwood reflecting on his career, then Hereafter must surely be the 80-year-old filmmaker’s musings on what might come next. He clearly felt a deep connection with Peter Morgan’s screenplay, as he lets the story unfurl in an unhurried, at times ponderous, pace.
The film opens with a jaw-dropping Tsunami, which forever changes the life of French journalist Marie LeLay (De France). Barely surviving the ordeal Marie finds herself having visions which lead her to seek answers. Similarly, London schoolboy Marcus (played by both Frankie and George McLaren) feels compelled to investigate the afterlife after his twin brother is killed in an accident. And the one person who may be able to help them both is American psychic George Lonegan (Damon), but the negative impact of his gift leaves him reluctant to embrace it.
Sensibly concentrating on the reasons why people search for answers than offering up any concrete theories as to what happens when we die—other than suggesting that something misty awaits us, whatever our beliefs or behaviour—Hereafter must be applauded for tackling such a universal mystery head on. It’s not entirely successful, however; some elements of Morgan’s screenplay are awkwardly contrived, while the narrative is weighed down by its own gravitas. And while performances by De France, Damon and McLaren lend some sparkle, given the strength of the talent involved Hereafter is, ultimately, a disappointment.
This review was originally published in movieScope 20, where you’ll also find interviews with the film’s screenwriter Peter Morgan and digital colourist Jill Bogdanowicz
Director Clint Eastwood
Stars Matt Damon, Cecile De France, Frankie McLaren, George McLaren
Screenplay Peter Morgan
Distributor Warner Bros
Running Time 2hrs 9mins
Opens January 28