After…

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“Urban Explorers are extreme sports’ answer to computer hackers: a growing breed of thrill-seekers who thrive on infiltrating the planet’s most dangerous man-made structures… Just because they can.”

“After…” graciously explains this in the opening sequence, so now I don’t have to attempt to explain it to you. As you can imagine, this film is about urban exploring. It follows a group of friends who venture to abandoned and crumbling buildings, crawling through the airshafts, fumbling through tunnels, and roping their way down massive chutes, all the while filming the exploration. After their task is complete, they upload the footage onto their website for fans to watch. Before base jumping to victory from the top of a large building, our lead character Nate is told by his girlfriend that she has something important to tell him that will “change everything.” Soon, they’re on their way to Russia to explore underground Moscow in an attempt to find rumored torture chambers and secret tunnels once frequented by Ivan the Terrible and Russian dictators. Once our team sneaks under the subway system, things start to get a bit funny. Nate finds himself hallucinating about a past event in his life that has been haunting him forever and his friends aren’t doing so well either. They soon find themselves trapped in an underground tunnel system which is inhabited by gas-masked soldiers and homeless people who are slowly being poisoned by radioactive materials. If they can’t find their way out, they may never awake from this surreal nightmare.

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It’s really tough trying to explain the plot of this movie without giving anything away or even just trying to explain it, period. It’s like a cerebral three-way between “Session 9,” “Jacob’s Ladder,” and “The Blair Witch Project.” It’s very low budget but is shot quite nicely. The dream/hallucination sequences work very well and can be quite confusing at times, but fortunately it all comes together in the end. I don’t know if this is because it takes place in Moscow or not but “After…” has a very Russian-Lit feel to it, emphasizing emotions like guilt that physically manifest themselves to our characters.

The film has a very steady vibe to it, which is gloomy and foreboding, but at times it can feel a little slow. When there isn’t much action happening, it’s our gang fumbling through tunnels and arguing amongst themselves. However, it is a film about urban exploring, so that’s forgivable. My only other complaint is that nearly the entire film is soundtracked by The Crystal Method. Now I have nothing against the group, but the electronic beats don’t always correlate with the scenes they’re supposed to. In certain dramatic moments, the music can be a tad distracting and sway you from how you should be feeling for the characters. But regardless, “After…” is a nifty little indie gem that should be explored by those who don’t mind using their noggins. Just don’t expect another “Jacob’s Ladder.” It definitely borrows from the film but in no way succeeds it.

The Hidden Message: Urban exploring in creepy underground Moscow isn’t so great. You’re always rush’n. (Har-har. You can shoot me now.)

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~ by exploitnation on March 20, 2008.

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