MOVIE: 1/2 (out of 5)
DVD EXPERIENCE: *** (out of 5)
John Mellencamp as JOE MACCORMACK
Terrylene as LORA
Michael Zelniker as RYE
Louise Fletcher as AUNT CORA
Billy Burke as SAMMY
Michael Twaine as DETECTIVE CONWAY
Directed by: Robert Manganelli
BY KEVIN CARR
At first, I thought that “After Image” was just another late-release DVD from the Miramax vault. It’s not uncommon for these older releases that basically went nowhere to find a home on DVD up to ten years after it his its limited theatrical run.
As I watched the movie itself, it appeared to be exactly that. However, when I finally checked out the DVD special features, I found some interesting things. Initially, I felt released that there were at least a few extra features on this DVD, and they actually save it from being a total waste.
But in the tradition of handing out the bad news first, let’s talk about the movie itself.
“After Image” is many thing, but most of all, it’s boring. This 92-minute film could have been condensed into a half hour. The story follows a crime-scene photographer (John Mellencamp) who has grown troubled with his work. After seeing so many murders of innocents, he tosses his camera in the river. Later, he’s hanging out with his aunt (Louise Fletcher), who is dying of advanced diabetes. His brother (Billy Burke) has some unmentioned mental problem, and his only friend is a deaf girl (Terrylene) who has visions of murders.
This movie doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense. This is director Robert Manganelli’s first feature, and it shows – painfully. Half of the film is taken up with unnecessary artistic padding, with dream sequences of Terrylene running naked through a warehouse. As much as I appreciate the generous female nudity, I found these sequences beyond tedious.
John Mellencamp was embarrassing in this movie. Supposedly, Mellencamp had tried to make a film down in Florida several years ago, but reports from the set said he was so full of himself that the budget ballooned to the point of no return on investment. Apparently, he suckered Manganelli into thinking he could actually act.
Sigh… Mellencamp needs to stick to his music career. He wears this cheesy van dyke beard throughout, which makes him look really unappealing. And cinematographer Kurt Brabee needs to take some pointers from the guys who shoot Tom Cruise in how to not make your short actor look like a child.
Louise Fletcher is hideously underused in this film. She’s on the movie only because she won an Academy Award in the 70s, and her part is a throwaway role. The killer in this movie is a psychopath who videotapes his crimes. However, he’s such a boring villain that is taunting Mellencamp’s character for no apparent reason.
I was ready to give up on this movie until I watched the special features. These included a documentary that told about the journey this movie took. It was an independent film made in Rochester with your standard indie film crowd. They all have a lot of heart, but they really don’t know what they are doing. Case in point, one of the producers raised partial funds by going door to door in the wealthy neighborhoods.
Having been through the morass of independent film production, I pity these people. They thought they were making the next great movie. But it was a turd, and nobody noticed it. The only saving grace on this DVD is the insight into the desperation of an independent filmmaker. Case in point, the production was extended a full day to accommodate the shooting of an egg factory where the killer works. Sure, it looked neat, but it didn’t have nearly the same effect on screen as it did to the production crew. The bottom line is that it was probably not worth the extra expense, yet the director felt it was critical to the movie.
Still, what do I know? This guy managed to get into Sundance with this piece of crap. He had to have been doing something right.
Specifications: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound. Widescreen (1.85:1), enhanced for 16×9 televisions. French and Spanish subtitles. English subtitles for the hearing impaired.