Review of The Here After over at Flickering Myth and below…
With The Here After, Magnus von Horn creates a disturbing vision of controlled chaos of judgement and retribution. Starring Swedish pop star Ulrik Munther, the film relates the social reaction to a crime committed in rural Sweden. Von Horn takes a minimalist approach to the story, only allowing key elements to trickle out as the tension steadily amps up.
The non-mainstream approach of only letting the audience in bit by bit works well for the most part, with a good deal of sympathy for the central character’s plight being built up before all the cards in the pack are dealt out.
The main figure in all of this is John (Munther) who we meet at the start of the film leaving an unnamed institution in the care of his father (Mats Blomgren). The two travel back to their home town, partaking in the traditionally stifled conversation between teenage son and mildly stressed dad. Back at home, John play fights with younger brother Filip (a smartly funny show from Alexander Nordgren) and helps out with the household chores. No mention is made of where John has been or why he was there.
Aside from John’s shell-shocked attempts to settle down into family life (which, with the addition of a sickly Grandfather, is wholly and tellingly comprised of male characters) the early scenes convey an odd but superficially calm exterior.
The first clear sign that something far darker is under wraps is an encounter with a member of the town’s folk at the local supermarket. The shocking event acts as a trigger to the uncovering of the truth. There won’t be any spoilers given away here, suffice to say that the machinations of justice, moral judgement and social pressures loom large over the whole piece.
A fantastic performance from Munther showcases the difficulties communities face in the aftermath of tragedy and violence. Exactly how to come to terms with the realities of repressed anger and unresolved emotional activity is a problem laid out here in all its grim detail.
Drawing inevitable comparisons with Thomas Vinterberg’s The Hunt, this tale of alienation and social exclusion is a tense, visually striking film displaying a quiet, studied gravitas.
The DVD includes two short films by Magnus von Horn, Echo (2008) and Without Snow (2011)