The After pilot review

Review Ron Hogan 4 Mar 2014 - 07:38

From The X-Files creator Chris Carter comes The After, one of Amazon's clutch of 2014 pilots...

This review contains spoilers.

For years, television networks have tried to recreate surprise hits by replicating the formula. For example, networks have been trying to find another Lost since Lost went off the air. Feel free to substitute Fringe in for Lost as necessary. However, one of the first shows I remember drawing that sort of attention was The X-Files. For awhile, everyone tried to have an X-Files clone, and no one was able to capture that properly, not even Carter himself.

Fortunately, The After doesn't seem like it's trying to capture the X-Files vibe so much as it's trying to be the show Under The Dome promised, yet failed to deliver. Normal people caught in an abnormal situation, just trying to survive while the world around them falls apart at the seams. In that way, I guess it's Chris Carter's version of a Revolution or a Walking Dead, except we don't bypass the breakout event, we jump right into it as the episode ticks along.

Gigi (Louise Monot) is a struggling actress who leaves her home in New York, flies out to LA, and auditions for a role in a big movie. Of course, since she's really attractive, they want her to play the twenty-something drug-addict prostitute involved in a threesome relationship, not the cold-blooded assassin role she covets. Disappointed, she returns to her lush hotel (she must be a successful actress in New York to afford something that nice) and finds herself caught in both a police manhunt and in an elevator. Just when you thought things couldn't get worse, it turns out the world's also going to end.

The development of the big catastrophe, vague as it is, is developed pretty steadily along the course of the hour, with Chris Carter showing a fine hand as a director. He's able to capture a lot of the feelings of fear and paranoia and nervousness without having to spend a lot of budget to do so. He does some great work with a huge cast of extras, and the few effects that he employs to portray the fan meeting the feces are surprisingly solid. Mostly, it's the crowd that makes it work, screaming, panicking, surging, crushing people who fall... that's really the scary part of any huge disaster; big masses of people are dangerous and troubling, and whoever was responsible for wrangling the extras and getting them to react as needed deserves a bonus. The nightmarish cold opening is also impressively executed.

One of the downsides of The After being developed for the Internet rather than a broadcast television network is the fact that Carter seems to go a little overboard in providing the expected content that no network censor would allow. In particular, the script seems to be unexpectedly heavy on obscenities. Normally, I'm not one of the people who is sensitive to that sort of thing, but it still ended up sticking out to me anyway. It felt like Carter wrote the dialogue, then when he realized it was going to go to Amazon, then he went back and added cursing just to make sure he had his quota of edgy material. (The nude scene, usually the first thing added to enrich a pilot and grab eyeballs, ends up being important to the material presented, so I can give the boobs a pass.)

However, I do like the assembled core of characters. Louise Monot is really good in the lead role, despite the thickness of her accent. The characters seem like they'll yield the right amount of tension for a group dynamic, assuming the show gets picked up for a full season, and I have to admit to being really surprised by the performance of Jamie Kennedy thus far. It's hard to really show up in a single episode and impress, but I like the few layers he was able to bring in a short amount of screen time. Other characters, like the lascivious alcoholic McCormick (Andrew Howard) and the angry, wrongly-accused convict D. Love (Aldis Hodge), are pretty one-note and follow fairly expected patterns, but there's always room to grow; Tammy the escort (Arielle Kebbel) seems like she could really grow from her stereotypical introduction and sans-bikini swim.

Still, this is a Chris Carter joint, and Chris Carter's work is only as good as its scare potential. This show looks like it has a lot of that. The elevator is bad enough, and as opening impressions go, Gigi's first step out into the chaos of LA, revealing thousands of people milling around, stalled traffic, and some great helicopter shots/crane shots showing the expanse of crowd is one that'll linger in the audience mind. The whole forest sequence is pretty good, too, especially the reveal of the mysterious shadow creature covered in tattoos, dislocating all its limbs, and skittering off into the darkness.

I have to admit, even if The After doesn't get picked up for a series, I really enjoyed the pilot. It's bumpy at times and feels too busy at some points, but by and large, it remains interesting, suspenseful, and creepy when it's expected to be so. It's nice to see Chris Carter back again, even if it's just to remind us all that he still has some cool ideas rolling around in his head.

US Correspondent Ron Hogan has been a busy participant in the Amazon Originals pilot program. He voted against the Zombieland spin-off series, and thankfully it worked. He'll be voting yes on The After. Find more by Ron daily at Shaktronics and PopFi.

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I really noticed the swearing too, not that I was overly upset by it - it was just a bit jarring and took you out if the moment. Otherwise I quite liked this and I too am very glad that Zombieland didn't go to series as it was utter pants...

I thought this was terrible. The racist swearing Irish guy was really annoying, and none of the character smoved past the bad dialouge and cliche. The ending was decent mind.

Appalling show, badly acted, cheaply made. The swearing & nudity felt forced. Intiguing end, but not enough to warrant a series...

I was really getting into this show, with the whole apocalyptic feel and the mystery surrounding what had happened, until the very end. It felt to me like there was a whole story already building up before someone decided to drop an alien in the woods. Too many stories seem to be going down this road (Indy 4 and Knowing spring to mind straight away) and it would be nice if we could find a way of playing out a story without the need to say "Aliens did it".

It shows some promise, but the over-the-top swearing was jarring. I also don't believe that the characters in the lift behaved in a way that someone would in that situation without knowing what was going on outside. If I got stuck in a lift I would just assume it was a power failure and not immediately start forcing doors and car park security gates. They only became aware of the wider situation after they had escaped.

There are a lot of fantastic shows that had awkward pilots. This one was strong, with only a few bumpy moments. I hope they give this one a chance to blossom into its full potential!

Liked the production values, the acting was mostly decent, and the direction not terrible. But the writing ... every other line got a laugh from the room I was in. And how many intended-to-be-mindblowing cliches can you wedge into a single pilot?

one long WTF moment from star to finish, and not in an intriguing way. worst editing i have ever seen (in that it is the first time i have actually noticed the editing because it so illogical). the only bit which felt convincing was when mr clown was not a clown any more.

Wrong.

Wrong. Wrong.

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

It looked more like a demon than an alien. Js

Why are we wrong? I would love to know as I genuinely haven't seen such a poorly made piece of genre television for a long, long time...

yeah - i'm going with demon rather than alien. the whole thing smells of the christian rapture to me - and as the supposed tribulation period is meant to last for 7 years, that gives us 7 seasons and the potential for an awesome series finale. could be interesting, i'm willing to give it a go.

so i assume they all died in the lift?

This just got picked up for a full series!

Excuse me Mr. Carter, X-FILES aired in 1993, a lot has happened between then and now 2014 ! ..it's called the Internet. We are all very complicated now, people demand more from a TV show, this kind of stuff might of worked in 1993, but now in 2014 ! ..come on!

Obvious, predictable, pointless and ! " will " be drawn out over many many episodes

I really disliked most of the characters. The story is so predictable!

I swear it's like someone has sat down and just pulled a few ideas out of some boxes and thrown together a TV show. After 10 minutes I thought " this is going to be a long drawn out show like LOST " ..what a pointless waste of time, the cliffhanger at the end was so ridiculous I almost fell off my chair laughing!

Who's we? I'm not saying there weren't annoying aspects to the pilot or that the characters seemed 100% believable, but I was still intruiged and want to see another few eps.

That's what I'm going with LOL

We as in the two replies below who were also told they were wrong. Intrigued yes, but there is no excuse for such poorly constructed television.

technically, you are WRONG. it's NOT on television...now is it?

It was like Chris Carter just learned about the F word and he wanted to see how many times he could stuff it in a single episode.

Episode had promise. I liked quite a bit. Quite a bit had me shaking my head. Overall, a C+/B- pilot.

Will watch it cause Carter is involved and I want to see where it goes. But he needs to deliver on answers. As much as I loved the X-Files, they went the wrong way with giving fans answers.

This was hilarious. ---SPOILERS--- Close to dozen ppl get stuck in a garage. One of them is a cop. Hey. Freeze! SHOOTS someone! Oops. I meant you. Me? I take this woman as a hostage! What do you say to that? HAH! Here is what we do. You give up your hostage with no reason at all and we go from there. Ok? Ok :(

Next. All but that one are wondering why Chris Carter left them there with nothing to do. Hostage taker from previous screen, who is also convicted killer on a loose, is trying to get them out of that garage. Oh no. A steelbar door! On a garage. Clever criminal found a carlift and is just about to go under the door when our cop points a gun at him and ask what you think you doing. I found a way out. Dumb bimbo. Wow. He did! Lets all go from that!!! Criminal naturally first. Then hot girl. Oh no! It failed. My leg must be broken. Aaaaarrrrghhhhh!!!! Lift it! She might make it! Oh good. Damn. The carlift is broken. We are stuck! :(

Next scene. Hottie from last scene is running around town asking for help. That mission she forgets in about ... 10 seconds.

It gets better. Hottie does all sorts of manouvers of her own before we are cut back to the garage. All are lying on the floor depressed that nobody isn´t going to rescue them. Oh wait. I shot someone. Lets go ask if he is in a good mood. Hi there! Can I help you? Yea, shoot me again! This time to the head (ho ho ho, very funny!). -Pulls gun of holster- Hey! What you doing!?! - I can´t take this anymore. It´s been an hour and we haven´t been rescued. We gotta do something!!! - Breaks into car - Takes carlift - Heads to the door... CUT.... Who wrote this sh*t?

I really enjoyed the pilot. I can't wait to watch more... please, Amazon!

I've seen far worse on network TV. This show is interesting and intriguing. I want to see where it goes!

Just like to point out as a fellow Irish, that, that much swearing is the norm in Dublin ^^

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