Saturday, January 20, 2007

Afterthought (2006)

Afterthought is an intelligent, refreshing and slick-looking independent spookshow set in a hockey-obsessed high school in Wisconsin.

Kristy is a high school student is having reoccurring nightmares of a young dead boy. Her father passed away years ago, and she learns that he left her with the gift to see and communicate with the dead. Kristy is part of the popular hockey clique, which includes her best friend Mindy and her boyfriend and star player Elliot. The outcast of the hockey team is Kyle, who happens to be friends with Kristy. Kristy has a premonition about someone dying at the high school, and sure enough, a hockey player is murdered in the locker room. As more and more people die, Kyle comes under suspicion for the murders as he and Kristy grow closer, while Kristy is haunted further by the ghost of the little boy. Can the young boy help Kristy unlock the secret of his past and who is behind the murders?

First off, this independent feature has a very professional look to it. The opening credits alone grabbed my attention, as did the highly professional score and music. The production values throughout the entire film are very high, which is always a pleasure to see in an indie. The focus on quality really shines throughout the entire movie, from the production values to the acting, the story, the directing and the cinematography.

The story is surprisingly intelligent and keeps you guessing through to the end. The characters are wisely well-developed and I actually cared about what happened to them, unlike most horror films set in high school. The characters don't make stupid decisions and aren't stereotypes of high school students, but feel like real people you or I know. All of the actors do a great job, especially the lead in the role of Kristy.

The overall atmosphere is creepy and foreboding and the supernatural element of the creepy dead kid adds much to the slasher aspect of the film. The kid reminds me of the J-Horror kids like Toshio from Ju-On, but not in a bad way. The ghost child is very creepy, especially in his first appearance. There are plenty of jump scares, but not the cheap fake-outs featured in so many movies today. No, these scares are actually...scary (imagine that!)!

This film also captures the drama of high school life, especially being on a sports team. In this particular case, it's the hockey team and we get some great shots of a game. The backstabbing of high school is well-portrayed, as is the strong bond of friendship.

This movie was a real jolt to watch, a jolt that is sorely needed in the indie horror genre. It proves that you don't have to make a dumbed-down movie to be successful. Smart, creepy and a surprising and satisfying ending make Afterthought a winner in my book.

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