After Last Season is a top contender for the worst movie ever made. I’m not sure if it is as bad as Bat Pussy, but it is certainly in the bottom five, along with Alien Beasts and Things. If you are familiar with any of these films, you have an idea of what I mean when I say After Last Season is really bad.
You know that whole “slow” thing that is sweeping the arthouse world? Ming-liang Tsai and Apichatpong Weerasethakul and all that jazz? Ha! That ain't slow, After Last Season is slow. Each interminable scene is bookended by a long, still silence where the characters just stand there and wait for… I’m not sure what they are waiting for. They just stand there until the director wakes up and calls “cut.”
I think After Last Season is meant to be a horror movie, or maybe a sci-fi thriller. It’s about a college student named Sarah who signs up to participate in some kind of neurological experiment. There is an unnamed male lead who places computer chips on her temples and then places them on himself. Then, he guides her through what is meant to be a psychic journey of some kind. The experiment goes wrong, and Sarah realizes that she can see murders before they happen, a little like Christopher Walken in The Dead Zone, if Christopher Walken couldn’t act and Stephen King couldn’t write.
It’s very hard to watch After Last Season. There is so little for the viewers to engage with, your brain just gets bored and wanders off. Besides the lifeless scenes, there are all these inexplicable, unnecessary cutaways to blank spaces. People will be talking, and the camera just decides to turn away and stare at the wall. Here are some stills.
The film is like a test designed by some sadistic psych student to measure your attention span. The actors hardly move at all and maintain a completely blank affect. There were several times when I honestly thought the film had stopped to buffer.
I do want to give the filmmaker credit when it comes to the props. He built a whole MRI machine out of paper and tape. It’s not everyone who would problem solve production issues with office supplies.
Actually, there is quite a bit of paper in the film. For some reason, the director felt the need to eliminate all “extraneous” information. There isn’t any art on the walls, or vases, or plants, or rugs, just white.
There are no close-ups in the film and no long shots either, just spotlit medium shots with heavy shadows. I don’t think they had a boom mic, so everything is shot off the camera’s condenser mic. The result is a muddy, echoey mess that you have to turn all the way up to hear. This would be fine, but if something closer to the camera makes the tiniest noise, it becomes a thunderous, unintentional jump scare.
There is nothing remotely suspenseful or frightening about After Last Season, however, the whole thing is so mannered and awkward, it manages to be a little creepy. The movie is so empty and lifeless, it gets on your nerves, which is sort of suspense-adjacent.
The mental images traveling between the unnamed guy and Sarah are rendered with CGI. I believe in this case the C in CGI stands for Crappy. At first, just shapes appear and float around. It looks like a grade school student’s CGI homework, it’s about as basic as CGI can get. But then, the shapes develop into a very primitive bird, then into a flower, and then into clusters of shapes that are meant to look like two humans, with one trying to stab the other. It kinda looks like a Kostabi painting, which is in no way a compliment.
Then there are the arrows. The whole film is peppered with shots of directional arrows on walls. I don’t know why. There are a lot of things in this film that I don’t understand: the editing, the staging, the blocking, the pacing, the dialogue, and why they made the whole thing at all. Two wrongs don’t make a right, but sometimes 15 or 20 wrongs can be pretty funny to watch, I guess.
The Wikipedia entry about After Last Season mentions, “The film received negative reviews, with criticism being aimed at its acting, visuals, animations, and the perceived convolution of its plot. The film grossed so little in the few theaters it was shown at that the film's reels were destroyed, as this was cheaper than returning them.”
Wikipedia also places the budget for After Last Season at 5 million dollars, which is absolutely preposterous. I don’t know what kind of gambling debts or Ponzi schemes were involved but there is a whole lotta money unaccounted for, I guarantee you. It was made in 2009 by Mark Region. Not a whole lot is known about him, but I think he should be placed on some kind of “no film list” for everyone’s safety.
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