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It’s no mean feat to transition from short films to feature length stories, but Sydney-based writer, director, producer, Jack Dignan has taken the bull by the horns with his first foray, After She Died. Billed as part of A Night of Horror International Film Festival’s line up, Dignan has the opportunity to showcase his talents before a genre-loving audience.

The tale he has chosen to tell is one of grief, loss and heartache. Jen (Liliana Ritchie) has always had a strong bond with her mother Isabel (Vanessa Madrid), so she is thrown into a world of misery when her mother dies. What Jen doesn’t fully comprehend though is that things are going to get steadily worse. 

Jen is already estranged from her father, John (Paul Talbot) whom she believes was an abusive husband, but through their grief they will share an intense pain. One that is solidified through a curious, paranormal event; namely the arrival of John’s new girlfriend, the spitting image of Jen’s mother. Is there more to this uncanny likeness than meets the eye? And has Jen’s father dabbled with the dark arts to keep his suffering at bay? Whatever the answers, there is a festering wound that will only amount to a sickening torment, simmering to the surface where it can no longer be contained.

The Prognosis:

This may be Dignan’s debut feature length movie as a director, but he manages to carve a well-structured, pot-boiler of a movie, slowly wrenching up the tension along the way. 

The performances from his two leads, Ritchie and Madrid are solid, drawing out the angst felt by both parties. A mother, daughter relationship, ripped apart and trying to heal in the most unusual of circumstances. Above all else though, Dignan casts a light on grief and how it can tear up the soul, damaging any essence of light right to the core of hope. It’s a subject well-trodden but ventured into a terrain that allows the topic to resonate and leave questions about the roles we play in accepting one of humanity’s most natural-yet harrowing experiences. It’s not about the healing process, it’s about how we heal and what remains of us at the end of the experience.

  • Saul Muerte

After She Died will have its Australian premiere at A Night of Horror International Film Festival on Saturday, October 22, 7pm.