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Dead Northern 2022 Festival Review – After She Died
Jen (Liliana de la Rosa), is suffering with the aftermath of losing her mother, made worse by her damaged relationship with the only parent left in her life, her father John (Paul Talbot). With her social circle progressing past the humdrum of small town life, Jen is now more alone than ever. However, when John introduces his new girlfriend Florence (Vanessa Madrid), Jen senses that something just isn’t right and her isolation rises to a whole other level.
Jack Dignan wrote, directed, and co-produced After She Died, one of 2022’s most spirited indie features that refuses to quit until you’ve questioned everything you thought you knew about horror. As with many film buffs, Dignan has been infatuated with cinema for nearly the entirety of his life, signing up for every film course he could during the school holidays, before eventually enrolling at the Academy of Information Technology where he received a diploma in interactive media and film. Since then, Digan’s extensive credits has ranged from directing the acclaimed short It Feels Like Spring (2019) to working behind the scenes in the visual effects department for blockbusters such as Thor: Love and Thunder (2022) and Elvis (2022).
Australian horror infamously blossoms in the hardcore sub genres of film, with eco terrors and exploitation flicks making the most out of the classic landscape. However, rather than go with the flow, After She Died dares to go bold with the film’s utterly nerve shredding, yet touching tale of remorse, grief, and the almost out of body experience that comes with severe unfamiliarity. The film’s yearning for a closely knit story that yields to the most fragile elements of adulthood, including the modern tragedy of the coming-of-age narrative is what bonds the viewer so tightly to the script, knowing that at one point the unease of broken down fellowships will become a reality.
The keen expressionism is gripping from the very first frame, but this fruitful execution would not be the same without the visceral visuals and dramatic soundscape that ensure the animated lighting, suspenseful setting, and pronounced character dynamics all remain as significant as Dignan overtly meant them to be. The direction behind After She Died was openly inspired by the unsettling nature of Asian horror classics such as Audition (1999) and Ju On: The Grudge (2002), where the fleshiness of the film equally derives from the ubiquitous plot points and the sinister cinematography. As Jen’s sense of reality succumbs to the horrors that lie ahead, the screen also becomes almost tainted, making use of the entire frame that slowly begins to fill with increasingly ominous symbolism.
Over the years there has been an stern interest in matriarchal horrors diving into the terror within parental relationships, particularly with the likes of Goodnight Mommy (2014) and Hereditary (2018), however, rather than exaggerate upon already released works, After She Died thrives in its originality and exclusive pathos, warranting it to be both highly regarded in its field and as an important contribution to the entire process of independent cinema.
Check out the film and much more at this years festival, tickets here…
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