Recently, a gathering of the world’s nations occurred; not to discuss, the important issues facing world leaders today, like poverty, war, or climate change, but, to participate in a glorified, snowy sports day, in Russia of all locations.
Russia, whose human rights record is right up there with Uganda and North Korea; who are holding the world to ransom over their gas reserves, and governed by a homophobic, megalomaniac, mass murderer who cannot see the irony of his campy, shirtless, Brokeback Mountain style, antics, as he assured the world that there were no gays in Sochi. Funnily enough, there were also no stray dogs, cats, or migrant workers, because they have been either beaten within an inch of their lives, ‘euthanised’ or deported on trumped up charges instead of paid for services rendered, prior to the athletes arriving.
We all knew what was going on. The members of Pussy Riot who were conveniently released just before the games began, the thirty Greenpeace protesters trying to stop the drilling for oil in the Arctic who were detained for months without proper cause, the LGBT human rights abuses, the situation in the Ukraine, and the fact they are ignoring every UN judgement or sanction imposed upon them, in favour of flexing their shirtless muscles, like a school yard bully that even the teachers don’t quite want to deal with.
The Winter Olympics should have been boycotted purely on the basis that no amount of happy ski fun time glosses over the fact that women and men are being attacked on the street for being gay. Bones are being broken, blood is being spilled, and yet, let’s all pretend it isn’t happening, just for a moment , because national pride in sport is way more important.
After all, it’s not affecting you directly, so why should you care?
Probably because you’re human, and the suffering of others should force some sort of basic human empathy from you, that’s why.
In regards to Kiev, the Ukraine was regarded by both Lenin and Hitler as the strategic key to a European invasion, and therefore the next World war, which would definitely affect you.
… Something to think about maybe?
Russia is not the sort of country anyone wants to be caught breaking the law in when you’re born and bred there, never mind when you are visiting for a nice little holiday; so when you are intentionally entering a country with a dim view of foreign snooping, to document and promote these crimes, you are not so much playing with fire, as running through a burning building carrying a can of petrol.
Urban Explorers (also referred to as urban spelunking or infiltration) are people that do this sort of thing for pleasure, the way that us normal boring folk read comic books, or play video games. They like to scour the very edges of our society into abandoned buildings, tunnels, sewer systems, and forgotten reaches of our urban sprawl and photograph or video the findings resulting from the dangerous, often illegal outings off the officially mapped out cityscape.
This is exactly what the protagonists of After … are doing in Moscow, when they obtain maps reputed to lead them to Stalin’s Metro 2( A secret tunnel system said to have been built to transport or evacuate Stalin and members of the KGB in the event of a nuclear war), and Ivan the Terrible’s legendary torture chamber. These three seasoned young daredevils are ready for a new challenge, all driven by different motivations, but as they travel further into the shadows of the mysterious Soviet tunnels, the cracks between them become apparent, and the lines between reality and fantasy begin to blur.
After … is an excellent independent film, that has such an interesting subject matter that it can be forgiven for a lot more flaws than the usual, life through a lens genre that we are so saturated with these days. It’s fast paced, not to heavy on the dialogue, and heavily relies on the viewers own interpretation to hold your attention, which I found to be a heady original mix of morality play and claustrophobic horror.
Told through flashbacks and shaky camera work, there is some solid acting and decent FX, which draws you into a carousel of fear, guilt and blame, interspersed with impressive displays of film making in less than ideal conditions.
The haunting, sometimes beautiful, techno soundtrack, doesn’t detract from the nightmarish atmosphere and doesn’t become intrusive either, which is so often the case. This is a truly original, almost hypnotic, tale of love, loss, life and death, which left me wanting more and considering the repercussions of the ending long after the screen had gone dark.
Well executed and a masterpiece of neurosis, this is a dream for fans of low budget film, and one to watch before you depart this mortal coil.
Because let’s face it, the way things are going, the end looks pretty nigh.