The Here After
Scandinavian cinema has seen something of a revival of late, with gripping TV dramas like The Killing and The Bridge being readily gulped down by hordes of British viewers seemingly obsessed with the genre. As with the relentless Fast & Furious series, Nordic filmmakers seem to have found a successful formula, and are greedily sticking with it. That’s not meant to sound disrespectful: The Here After chillingly reminds us they are very good at it.
The film brings to life a question that is largely overlooked in modern society: how does a society accept a former criminal? And can society ever truly forgive him for his crimes? The “him” in this case is John, who we observe being released from a young offenders institution and attempting to carry on his clearly dysfunctional life.
The director, Magnus von Horn, keeps his cards close to his chest for the majority of this, his feature debut. Details of John’s past are slowly drip-fed to the audience, and for most of the film we are hungrily hunting for even the slightest clue as to what he could have done. Whilst it’s not original, it’s an effective tactic, as the audience is drawn into the drama. The true power of this film lies in the relationships between John and his family, as well as his former friends at school, who seem all too willing to turn their backs on him. It soon dawns on us that the real mystery of the movie isn’t necessarily what John did, but if society can ever really forgive him for his crimes, and the emotional impact that his actions have caused. It’s a cold subject matter, but its intricacies are brought to life beautifully.
The ice cold John is a revelation, and the difficulty of playing such a complex character is superbly handled by Ulrik Munther. We feel for John and loathe him in equal measure, all the while desperately searching for anything that can give us an insight into the crime he has committed. He’s frustratingly unaware of the immense issues he’s caused his father and brother, and yet is ruthlessly shunned by society, despite supposedly having paid back his debt.
Whilst not reaching the dizzying heights of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Here After is an outstanding example of how far Scandinavian cinema has come. If “Nordic Noir” is your cup of tea, look no further.
The Here After is released in selected cinemas on 11th March 2016.
Watch the trailer for The Here After here: