It’s Amazon pilot season again. One of their many selections is an offering from X Files creator Chris Carter, The After. Based on viewing just a single available episode, all I can say is it’s better than the lackluster Zombieland pilot among last year’s offerings. Starring some familiar faces Jamie Kennedy, Sharon Lawrence, Adrian Pasdar, Jason Lewis, and French actress Louise Monot.
The After attempts to be suspenseful and thrilling, but succeeds in being annoying, unoriginal and disappointing. It gives off the impression it isn’t sure if it is trying to be Revolution (the power is off), The Walking Dead (hordes of people on the street, man turning on man and others finding community in a group), The X Files (the last minute or two things get freaky), or Lost (why this group of eight seemingly unrelated people trapped together). Being all over the place and unoriginal is frustrating because the last minute finally amps up the story and brings in the expected X Files vibe.
The After begins with a flashing collage of disturbing images as actress, wife, and mom Gigi Genereau wakes up suddenly. As the show progresses, we realize it is a preview of what is to come, but was it also her nightmare? Gigi is an actress and is out of town away from her family and staying in a hotel. That morning she has at least one audition scheduled. After leaving an obviously failed audition, Gigi is in an elevator that stops midway down. In what is a promising, hodgepodge of conventional scary movie scenarios- a stuck elevator, abandoned parking garage, an escaped convict they’re about to run into, and oh yea, a clown. The group finally gets out of the elevator and into the parking garage to find the security gate is locked down. That is when they learn they are in the company of a prison escapee who may or may not be guilty of murder, D. Love (played by Leverage’s Aldis Hodge, aka the man who killed Sam Winchester, the first time).
The lucky ones trapped in the garage with Gigi, the clown, and D. Love include an older woman, a female cop, an angry obnoxious Brit, a smarmy attorney and his lady friend. They eventually escape to ominous loud booms, falling helicopters, gridlocked masses, and a power outtage. It’s utter and complete chaos and they learn about 24 hours passed in what seemed like a half hour to them.
There are some would be intense moments and shoot outs. However, it’s all kind of generally lame. The female officer is a few steps up from Barney Fife. The attorney is a caricature of the rich guy with the bimbo (think Ty Burrell’s Dawn of the Dead’s character in the remake). Gigi seems like a cardboard cut out of Penelope Cruz. It’s only the first episode, but there was no one to get attached or relate to. Yes, D. Love’s actions actually show he may be innocent as he claims, but he’s still so gruff and so easy with pointing his gun, you don’t know if you want to like him yet, either.
The After finally picks up near the end. While holed up in the older woman’s mansion, the gang discovers they all share one important personal detail. Then a ridiculous shoot-out ensues with a hispanic gang who kidnapped the older woman’s housekeeper, leading to a running escape through the woods. Then things get interesting in a creepy way and it’s all suddenly over.
In a nutshell, if you can sit through annoying and unlikeable characters who end up in a real unoriginal situation before finally have a minute’s worth of a creepy freakout, this show may be for you to try! If it’s picked up, I would probably keep watching for a few episodes and then just stoop to reading the episode synopsis each week so I could find out the big mystery. Personally, it left me feeling like maybe some artists only get one great idea; sure Millennium started out okay, but got sucked into its mythology early on and let’s not go near the short lived Harsh Realm and The Lone Gunmen. You can watch The After through Amazon.com and give them feedback and they select a pilot to make a series.
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