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After We Leave

After We Leave (2016) Movie Poster
USA  •    •  82m  •    •  Directed by: Aleem Hossain.  •  Starring: Brian Silverman, Clay Wilcox, Anslem Richardson, Anita Leeman Torres, James Black, Cesar De León, Naomi Salamon, Phinneas Kiyomura.  •  Music by: Chanda Dancy.
    A man struggles to find his wife who he abandoned six years ago, before their visa to immigrate to an off-world colony expires.


Shame on me, because I knew going into this that low budget+direct to video+lack of reviews or information usually screams "bad movie!", but I rented it nonetheless, I'm a sucker for dystopian films, even kind of bad ones. This film isn't kind of bad. It's really bad.

I'll say that I can love low budget movies, I can love ones with no name actors. But poorly written, with changing character motivations at random, and plot holes galore? That I don't love.

The film opens in an obviously dystopian future where people are basically waiting around to escape a dying Earth to off-planet colonies. There's no tv, no internet anymore for some reason not explained, and a whole lot of doing nothing by basically everyone.

As in most dystopian future films, the reasons for the sad state of the world aren't clearly explained, nor why many things are the way they are, so I don't fault the film for that per se. Usually in such films, the lack of world building is due to lack of time to explain the backstory, but this film had plenty of time to do that, which brings me to my biggest gripe with this movie: Nothing much happens, at all, ever.

People sit around and talk a lot, people walk outside in straight lines, people sit and stare at each other. I'm guessing the screenplay was about 3 pages long, and the actors had to fill in the lack of dialogue with many awkward stares (with this film having plenty of those!), and silent walking. Honestly, in the time spent with nothing happening in this film they could have easily filled in the entire history of the future.

I'm guessing the lack of activity was due to a lack of budget. Serious corners were cut in the production, some done ingeniously such as an entirely off-screen dialogue between the lead character and a hotel employee where you never see the employee (so they didn't have to create a set for it), and some that definitely impacted the story line.

I don't mind low budget if a story can still be told, but things were done in this film that makes me wonder if it wasn't originally supposed to have a much higher budget that was cut early in production.

For example, the protagonist gets hired "for a job" that people say "is dangerous", but after the job starts, cut to the end, the lead and another dude are dragging a heavy bag with something (?) in it, that is never explained. The job isn't explained, what they did isn't explained, how they get out isn't explained, something just happened. "Deal with it, we don't have the cash to show you what that was", the producer yells at the audience (all 10 of us who rented this).

Another issue with the film is that the protagonist and basically everyone in it are pretty lousy people, there's really no one to root for. You root for the lead because you've seen him the most, I guess? But the way people treat him you can assume he's an awful person too. Without any emotional attachment to anyone or anyone to root for the driving motivation for the film, the lead finding his estranged wife, becomes meaningless.

The film also contains glaring plot holes, as mentioned, including the lead miraculously escaping certain death multiple times, because these people who all seem to want him so dead never bother to actually getting around to killing him, and after 2 of his captors die in an amazing escape...rather than take any of their weapons or their vehicles or anything, the lead runs to fight his main enemy with his bare hands, minus his friend who came to rescue him in the first place. Okay?

If all this wasn't bad enough, the film ends with the lead completely betraying the entire reason for the entire film's purpose. "You can't go back again, was the message!" The director yells from his director chair, which must be in hell somewhere. Yeah, I get it.

Too bad the film's "message" is lost in a film that ends up being completely pointless by the end of it.

Skip this until you can see it for free, you've been warned.

Review by rmmil from the Internet Movie Database.