Like some kind of weird transmission from another planet, After Last Season found its way in front of my eyes with little warning. I had no understanding of what it was, where it came from or what it was trying to say but by the end I knew it was a voice I liked the sound of.
A quick google search helps to put some of this in context but not much. Initially stirring up a viral storm as a mysterious trailer that landed on iTunes one quiet day in 2009, online theorists speculated that it was a meant as a joke or, even more bizarrely, part of the marketing campaign for Spike Jonze’s Where the Wild Things Are. As it turned out, After Last Season was none of those things. But it is a film. And it’s a unique one.
Written and directed by Mark Region, this foreign transmission is hard to summarise or even describe, which in itself can be a sign of great cinema. As Morpheous once told Neo: “You need to see it for yourself”. Visually and conceptually the film sits somewhere between Michel Gondry and Shane Carruth. Gondry for the look, Carruth for the brains.
Much has been said of the spare and puzzling production design, some of which appears to be made out of cardboard or other materials from the filmmaker’s local arts and crafts store. Like Carruth’s Primer, Region injects a lot of scientific and heady concepts into the proceedings. There are endless scenes of people talking over tabletops and you probably won’t have a clue what the hell they’re talking about. There’s a murderer on the loose, some technology that allows people to visualise another’s thoughts and extended animated CAD sequences. It’s tricky to follow and easy to be put off by but genuinely, there’s something going on. What is it? I don’t know yet.
The construction is crude yet there’s a spectre of a steady hand. The odd editing rhythms and cutaways would be easy to write off as nonsensical and amateur but there’s definitely an intent behind them. Many viewers I think, have confused their failure to understand the film with the filmmakers lack of skill. While, yes, I do think there’s a lot to be desired in terms of the film’s aesthetic and performances, I suspect the filmmaker is a hell of a lot smarter than me when it comes to the nitty gritty of what the film is actually about and is assembled exactly as it should be. It will definitely take a few watches and lots of mulling over to piece this puzzle together but unlike genuinely “bad” movies, the prospect of that actually excites me. If this were merely a piece of shit, I wouldn’t be thinking about it anywhere near as much as I have done. The fact Region hasn’t made anything since just makes his voice more difficult to decipher. This is definitely one that could gain half a star with every rewatch if the pieces slot into place.
Watch this space.