After the death of her partner, hostage negotiator Ashely (Torri Yates-Orr) is grief-ridden and left to rediscover life without love. When Ashely is called to an intense standoff between an unstable person (Jesse James Locorriere) and the police, the tension escalates. With the lives of three civilians on the line, the grieving officer must face off against her inner demons and the vicious captor before time runs out. Life After analyzes grief and trauma through the lens of a classic police thriller.
Director Jesse Edwards displays good use of tension throughout the 20-minute runtime. The film begins slow, introducing the audience to Ashley and her struggle to set up the framework for the intense hostage situation to follow. Their conversation is a series of philosophical discussions between Ashely and the hostage-taker. These moments of dialogue mixed with flashbacks give a clearer picture of her grief and led to some of the bigger reveals in the film.
“…analyzes grief and trauma through the lens of a classic police thriller.”
At times, these exchanges can be hit and miss. Scenes that focus on the back-and-forth negotiation between Ashely and the hostage-taker feel tense and thrilling. In contrast, the criminal’s monologues toward Ashley feel inorganic and wax poetic at best. This makes it seem like Life After makes a better pilot for a police procedural than a cohesive short.
This pilot-like premise is not necessarily a bad thing. When the film steers into its cop drama aspects, the tension of the plot and motivations of Ashley become compelling. In such a short runtime, these classic tropes ground the proceedings and give authenticity to the character’s struggles. Ashely’s mourning process and taking charge of a heightened negotiation feel like a call back to when Gil Grissom was cracking cases on CSI.
However, Life After tends to lose its flair in the parables and weaker motivations of the hostage-taker. Despite the shortcomings, Edwards shows a lot of potential. I would be very interested to see his take on an episodic cop thriller or a detective feature.
"…a call back to the days when Gil Grissom was cracking cases on CSI."