Films featuring ghosts are (unsurprisingly) generally told from the perspective of the living. 'The Sixth Sense' almost subverted that approach but British writer-director Zam Salim takes things one step further in his debut feature, 'Up There' - exploring life after death, minus the living. Turns out it's not so different.
The ghosts here aren't of the horror variety. Instead, the main duo consist of the mundane Burn Gorman as Martin, and Aymen Hamdouchi's Rash who spends the vast majority of his screen time being tremendously annoying. The bureaucracy of the afterlife means that the duo act as carers, waiting for their chance to move "up there", but Martin's fate is put into jeopardy when they lose a new arrival.
Cue a caper to a remote and quite bleak Scottish seaside town, ably photographed by cinematographer Ole Birkeland, as Martin and Rash try to rescue the situation. Hamdouchi is hamstrung by the script's insistence on his character's misogyny and incessant talking but Gorman (whose career is looking promising, having appeared in 'The Dark Knight Rises') is more than competent in his role as the sullen Martin.
Billed as a comedy (drama), 'Up There' has moments of dry wit that may raise the odd chuckle. However, these are disappointingly scarce. Similarly, there is little dramatic tension, although one funeral scene proves touching - thanks in large part to the Christian Henson's impressive score which moves between the quaint and the melancholic with ease.
Zam Salim's 2007 award winning short film 'Laid Off' (watch below) inspired 'Up There' - an interesting take on life after death and its parallels with our everyday going ons. Unfortunately, this is a meandering debut feature which fails to excite outside its initial premise. Dare I say it, 'Up There' is all too often lifeless.
'Up There' is on limited release in UK cinemas from today, through Wilder Films. Find more info and request a screening at uptherethemovie.com.