Friday, November 27, 2009

After Last Season

Like many, I was informed of the existence of a movie called After Last Season by the trailer that was making the viral rounds on the internet earlier this year. As its own piece of art, the trailer for After Last Season is rattling. From the cardboard MRI machine to the non sequitur final line "They've got, uh, printers in the basement you can use," the two-minute piece defies every accepted convention of movie- and trailer-making. Some thought it was a joke, others a deliberate prank on the internet film community. One theory suggested it was Spike Jonze's viral marketing for Where the Wild Things Are. The general consensus was that it couldn't possibly be a sincere campaign for a sincere film. There's incompetence and there's delusion, but this, please, cannot be that.

Having now sat through the feature with some curious friends who bought the ten dollar DVD (a decent Friday night once you throw in the thirty-rack of PBR), I can attest that it is absolutely real. However, even if I try to accept After Last Season as unironic and unaffected (a straightforward genre entry created by a deluded artist who just wanted to complete a film), I am confronted by certain roadblocks.

As with the trailer, the thing is just too perfectly screwed up to be the result of accident. They say that in the digital age, anybody can make a movie and that anybody will. But After Last Season is Hamlet as compiled by a thousand monkeys hammering away at a thousand cardboard typewriters.

I mean, this thing was shot on 35mm. According to the limited research available on the internet, director Mark Region received millions of dollars from "investors" after he shot the movie. This cash ostensibly funded editing and special effects; the computer generated shapes you see flitting about in the trailer do make up at least a third of the feature's running time. But how on earth did Region fund the shoot, and how, in this day and age, does a project like this come together on 35 instead of some form of digital video?

Continuing with the theory that "Mark Region" simply has to be a pseudonym (In fact, most of the behind-the-camera names sound fake: "Vincent Grass" was the editor. "Gregory Reed" was the production designer. "Paul Rumsford" was the special effects coordinator. As you might have guessed, none of these people have any other entries on their IMDb pages.), is there any reason to believe any of the alleged facts surrounding the making of this film? The credits would have us believe this was a SAG production.

Why does Region seem to exist only by phone or by email? How could a film with even four or five people on the crew allow the thing to come together this way? How is it possible that it showed in exactly four Cinemark theaters in seemingly random parts of the country? I simply don't buy it.

Scott Van Doviak of the Fort Worth Star Telegram offers one of the few reviews online, which I discovered through Rotten Tomatoes. He describes a film "at once intensely boring, thoroughly disorienting and so technically incompetent it achieves several deeply unnerving effects entirely by accident." This nails it. The movie is unintentionally hilarious, sure, but how often do you see a movie that's unintentionally creepy? Don't get me wrong: After Last Season is terrible. But it's also a thriller that prevents its audience from becoming even remotely invested and then somehow freaks them out anyway. Perhaps the gag is not so much that it's about a schizophrenic as that it's made by a schizophrenic.

After Last Season cannot possibly be the work of anyone less than a genius. While I'm unable to propose any new theories as to the secrets behind the thing, count me as unsurprised if the truth ever comes out.

The website has alread posted a youtube video of four dudes tearing the movie apart. Regardless of the original intentions of whoever made this thing, it's already being milked as the next "worst movie ever made". Expect to see it in five years at your local revival house (if there are any left) at midnight on a Saturday, programmed with Repo! The Genetic Opera, The Room and The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

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