After.Life Movie Ending Explained- Is Anna Alive And All Your Other Questions Answered
After.Life from 2009 is an example of what happens when a good script is put in good hands with great actors. The psychological thriller from 2009 starring Liam Neeson, Christina Ricci, and Justin Long is a nontraditional horror film with very familiar themes. Vulnerability, fear of being buried alive, loss of agency, and insecurity are all themes that are explored in Agnieszka Wojtowicz-Vosloo’s film. Wojtowicz-Vosloo, who co-wrote the screenplay with Paul Vosloo, and Jakub Korolczuk, revels in misdirection and eerie atmosphere made even better by solid performances by the entire cast.
RicciAnna) does reluctant warrior very well, Justin Long(Paul) is a pro at the overwhelmed and slightly goofy boy next door, and Neeson(Eliot) is a standout as an uber-creepy funeral home director who is much more than he appears. After.Life reads like a classic gaslight movie. From the very first scene, Anna’s emotional and mental state is in question. Can her point of view be trusted, or is she truly being manipulated by everyone and everything around her until she is nothing but the unstable person everyone says she is? Most of this manipulation is done by one man in the film, but there is a fair amount of trickery employed with well-designed sound work, harsh lighting, and thoughtful dialogue. Here is everything you need to know about the After.Life ending.
Is Anna dead?
The biggest question in After.Life, of course, is, is Anna dead? Despite some cinematic calisthenics that makes things appear more paranormal than they are, she is, in fact, very much alive. Eliot keeps her paralyzed and immobile by injecting her with something he claims is for preparation purposes. Supposedly it is to keep rigor from setting in and other things. He puts makeup on her to make her look like a corpse, but when he makes her look at herself in the mirror, we see she does indeed breathe. He hides the condensation from her, but she is alive.
Eliot was the person who drove the car that caused Anna’s accident. Eliot was the first on the scene because he was directly involved. He injected Anna with the fictional Hydronium Bromide to stop her heart and lungs so she could be declared dead at the scene. The assumption is they allowed her body to go directly to his funeral home, where he revived her. It would be necessary to revive her almost immediately as the human body can not go without oxygen for more than six minutes without damage. Although somewhat farfetched, if Eliot had taken the body with him, he could have revived her before getting to the funeral home.
Eliot kills people who he thinks have squandered their lives. Anyone who is wasting their potential, according to him, falls victim to his scam. He gets them before they are actually dead and then convinces them they are dead, and only he can help usher them into the afterlife. Eliot has convinced himself that he is a hero who is making the world better by removing these leeches of society who do nothing but use resources without contributing to the greater good. Further, by giving them a chance to change, he thinks they are ultimately the guardians of their own destiny. It is a convenient way for him to absolve himself from their murders. He does talk to the dead, but it is an entirely one-sided conversation. They do not speak back. He is unhinged.
For Eliot, justification for what he is doing comes down to one philosophy. Anna asks him why people die, and he says, to make life important.” Eliot is so twisted he actually believes he is doing the world a service by helping those barely living people move on and make room for those who want to live.
Paul and Anna’s visions
Anna sees the dead woman that Eliot has prepared for a service not because she sees ghosts but because she is traumatized, drugged, and most certainly does have a brain injury. She has several visions in her three days with Eliot, but all of them result from her manipulated state and drugged mind.
Josh is haunted by Anna in his mind only. He loves her. In his grief and desire to hang onto her, he sees her in his nightmares, and Josh also has tremendous guilt over his fight with Anna the night of the accident. Anna’s mother makes it worse by giving voice to his fear that he caused her death. That is why visions of Anna haunt him. He finally believes what Jack told him about seeing Anna in a red dress in the funeral home and stops seeing visions of her. He doesn’t hear Anna clearly on the phone when she tries to call him because he was drunk, and maybe it was just a bad connection. Old school landlines could be a little finicky.
What’s the deal with Jack?
Jack is a troubled little boy who loves his teacher and is being twisted by Eliot. The little boy keeps a tiny chick who is not thriving. At first, he tries to nurse him back to health, but after spending too much time with Eliot, he buries the baby bird alive because he thinks it is better to put him out of his misery. Hopefully, Jack will get some therapy and not end up like Eliot, although that doesn’t look likely since his mother has significant problems of her own. The end of After.Life makes it clear; Jack has very little chance of not becoming a monster like Eliot.
What happens at the end of After.Life?
In the end, Eliot gives Anna a chance to walk out. But, instead of leaving, she hesitates and has a terrible nightmare about her funeral. It is a horrifying funeral vision that plays on every fear of death. Assuming he does something similar to all of the others, Eliot obviously doesn’t play fair.
He has an entire armoire of paper sacks, all dated. In all likelihood, these are previous victims of his attention. He has made it his life mission to “help” people find their path or encourage them to take an easy way out. Eliot gives Anna a choice at the end. He tells her she can walk out the door and embrace life or accept her fate and die. Surprisingly Anna chooses death. She is too scared to fight for her life and gives up. This doesn’t mean Anna was a coward, just that she was a victim of psychological torture and heavily drugged with psychotropic drugs.
Before her service, she asks to see herself one last time and realizes she is still breathing. Unfortunately, Eliot had already injected her with more paralytic, and she could not fight back. She is buried in the cemetery alive and wakes up in time to hear the dirt being dropped on her.
Paul drinks way too much and is provoked by Eliot. Paul drives off, and Eliot follows him, hoping he will get in an accident in his intoxicated state. Unfortunately, Paul does have an accident, and Eliot is right there to inject him with the drug and have him declared dead. Eliot takes him back to the funeral home but does not offer him the same choice as Anna and the others. Not only that, but he also does not spare Paul pain as he did with the others. He knows Paul will never accept the ruse, so he kills him with Jack as his accomplice. The dream sequence Paul has about saving Anna is just a hopeful vision. Both Anna and Josh die at the end, and Eliot and Jack continue killing.
After.Life is about taking your life back. Anna is controlled by her mother, Paul, and now Eliot. She is terrified of loving anyone because they may not love her back. Her mother is a real piece of work that is selfish and narcissistic. Rather than loving Josh wholeheartedly, she shoves him away because it is easier than being rejected. Regardless of what Eliot rationalized, she did choose life in the end, but he decided to end it. Poor Paul’s only mistake was loving Anna. The title tells us everything we need to know about what is really happening. This is not the afterlife but after life as Eliot’s victims are taken. The truth is in the punctuation. After.Life is streaming for free on Tubi right now.
As the TV/Streaming Editor for Signal Horizon, I love watching and writing about genre tv. I grew up with old school slashers, but my real passion is television and all things weird and ambiguous. When I’m not watching and writing about my favorite movies and series, I’m introducing my family to the wonderful world of sci-fi, fantasy, and horror. My only regret, there is not enough time in the day to watch everything.