The best compliment I can give a Christian film is that it has the ability to reach mainstream audiences. After Death is one of the few Christian movies that does just that.
After Death is a documentary about near-death experiences (NDE’s). But it is not scary. And it is not New Age-y. And it is not melodramatic.
The film features New York Times bestselling authors, including: Baptist minister, Don Piper (90 Minutes in Heaven), orthopaedic spine surgeon, Dr. Mary Neal (To Heaven and Back), John Burke (Imagine Heaven) president of Gateway Leadership Initiative, radiation oncologist, Dr. Jeffrey Long (Evidence for the Afterlife), and psychiatrist, Dr. Raymond Moody (Life After Life).
What makes this film unique in its ability to reach mainstream audiences, which is the goal of every Christian filmmaker? Authenticity. (See my article explaining “cheesy” as the exact opposite of authenticity: Moms: You have the Power! – Christian News Journal)
Why is After Death Authentic When Other Christian Films Fall Flat?
Because director Stephen Gray shrewdly takes a very methodical, slow approach to his denouement.
In being as shrewd as a serpent while being as gentle as a dove (Matthew 10:16), Gray doesn’t preach. He lets the survivors of the NDE’s tell their story. He lets it play out slowly, not using melodramatic accounts or emotionalism. Gray concludes with the consequences, and explains that these people – who have had very dramatic experiences that have strengthened their faith – they have also suffered. Immensely.
These experiences, they’ve paid a price for them.
Yet, they are still faithful.
It’s a sobering lesson for the country-club-church crowd who want the easy road to getting their loved ones saved. This film can be used as a tool, as the producers intended – a gentle tool to help skeptics and the unsaved to open their eyes.
Regarding the production values, editor Samuele Baiamonte did a masterful job with matching visuals and graphics with the first-person survivor accounts. Cinematographer Austin Straub’s photography was also extremely well-done, as were his recreations of accident scenes. Sound designer Mark Bartels also excelled in producing good, easy to hear audio – this is quite notable, as poor audio quality is usually the biggest weakness in Christian films, besides inauthentic scripts.
I believe in being a very harsh film critic (see linked article Moms: You have the Power! – Christian News Journal) because years of research has shown me that is the only way to ultimately eliminate the scourge of cheesy Christian movies that denigrate the LORD Jesus Christ. So I wrote this critique through the lens of an English Literature major who has had many, very rigorous, Systematic Theology and Christian Doctrine classes. I also wrote a novel about the Second Coming, so, this topic – being with Jesus in Heaven – is very important to me and something I don’t take lightly, giving it careful theological consideration. It is with this harsh, critical lens that I give After Death, distributed by Angel Studios, my approval as a film receiving my highest compliment – authentic, with the ability to reach the mainstream. Well done to director, Stephen Gray, and editor, Samuele Baiamonte, in creating this carefully measured tool to reach the masses.
Ticket information and show times: After Death Tickets & Showtimes | Angel Studios
After Death on IMDb: After Death (2023) – IMDb
Kristen Collier has a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature and is the author of the “exciting ecclesiastical thriller,” King of Glory, a supernatural love story about the Second Coming. She is co-founder, animator and producer at Collier Animation Studio, whose cartoons appear on streaming TV. Collier, a Hollywood Prayer Network MI Chapter Director, is also co-director of Allendale Christian Media, a department of St. John Lutheran Church.