Friday, June 12, 2009

After Last Season (2009)

Since I live a few miles away from one of the four theaters showing the Internet sensation After Last Season, I considered it my professional and patriotic duty as a bad movie blogger to see it. The movie ended its week-long run yesterday, and I managed to catch a matinée before it vanished from theaters forever.

I was one of two people at the screening. The other was a middle aged woman who spent the majority of the film knitting. When the end credits rolled she asked me "did you like that?" to which I replied, "I don't know what to think anymore."

Those of you who watched the trailer probably have a lot of questions. I'll do my best to explain as much as I can.
1. What is it about?

Mark Region provides the IMDb synopsis:
The end of another season has brought more than the usual change in temperature to the residents of a city. As they go through some tragic events, the residents, and especially a group of medical students, must reevaluate their lives and face new questions.
Some of this is true. I'm not sure what "city" he talks about. A vast majority of the film takes place either on a campus or in a medical research facility for the Prorolis Corporation. The medical facility resembles a residential home (for some reason there is a ceiling fan in the MRI room), and the campus resembles a series of interconnected Siberian maintenance sheds.
Really it's about the murder of a fellow student. One girl can see murders after and before they occur. At one point the murdered student comes back as some sort of ghost/invisible nebulous force. Or did he?

2. Is it really that bad?

Sort of. Picture something made by middle schoolers. Add computer graphics from that Dire Straits video, rambling dialogue about main markets, basement printers, and hot springs, pad it out even more, and you've got After Last Season.

However, a lot of this can be attributed to amateurism. The serial killer thread is slow, but coherent. There is some clever interplay between dreams and reality. I could see where Region was going. It's painful to watch, but ambitious for a novice.
3. Is this a joke?

I don't think so. If it is, someone put forth a lot of effort to make and distribute something that is incredibly bad, confusing, and poorly framed. Also, about 14 people saw it.

4. Seriously, is this a joke?

My theory is that Mark Region was in group therapy for a mild social or psychological disorder. As part of his treatment, one assignment involved a creative writing project dealing with his disorder in some way. Region wrote a short screenplay and, compared to the others, it wasn't too shabby. Ego boosted, he expanded it into a feature and spent the next 10 years hounding friends and family for money to produce it.

5. Did it really cost $5 million to make?

An interview with Region on Filmmaker Magazine expands on this a bit:
Filmmaker: In an earlier interview you stated that the film’s budget was $5 million, which seems like a high number considering that you had a tiny shooting crew and only shot for five or six days. Is this number correct?

Region: It’s correct. When we shot, the budget was $30,000 to 40,000, but to do those special effects and the computer animation, the budget went to that number.

Filmmaker: To $5 million?

Region: Yeah. And that also includes a few other things — titles, lab costs.

Filmmaker: But it doesn’t include theater rentals and the cost of distribution?

Region: No.
The $30,000 price tag sounds more reasonable. He states earlier in the interview that in order to save money on film stock, he would do a marathon line reading with each actor, one take apiece, of a random assortment of lines throughout the script.

I'm not sure how or why it would ever balloon to $5 million for the CGI, or where he got that money when his initial budget was so shoestring. Either he's lying, doesn't know how to count, or got incredibly ripped off.

Also, lab coats.
6. Do the lines in the trailer make sense in the context of the film?

No. They are just as bizarre. I imagine the fractious production process contributed to this somewhat, but as written, a majority of the scenes make no sense. Everything before and after the serial killer plot mostly involves people talking about places they or their relatives have been to (hot springs), places they haven't been to (the main market), things they or their relatives saw ("My husband saw a coyote over there once. It stayed for a little while, then it went away"), and other things that might contribute to characterization in a normal film.

The way the lines are written, again, feels like someone with a social disorder imitating how normal people interact. I'm sure that was part of the assignment as well.

7. Does she ever get to the main market?

Not in this one. You'll have to wait for After Last Season 2: Before Two Seasons After Last


  1. If you're interested, my thoughts on ALS are here:

  2. Just realized we came up with a variation on the same joke to conclude.


  3. I had a similar experience regarding almost falling asleep, except it was more like a hypnotic trance. Almost like tunnel vision.

  4. I am reading Katharine Coldiron's Junk Film: Why Bad Movies Matter and she devotes a whole chapter to After Last Season, entitled "When Bad is Baffling." From the descriptions I've read, your speculation about it being the end product of a therapy assignment seems very plausible.