A teenager is released from reform school and back into his remote Swedish community. His father and little brother seem pleased to see him, but the local community aren’t sure how to react. We’ve seen this story before – but ‘The Here After’ doesn’t play out how you expect it to, in ways that are sometimes intriguing, sometimes faintly ridiculous.
Pop star and first-time actor Ulrik Munther gives a wonderfully coiled, on-edge performance as John, the tight-lipped teenage boy whose re-entry into the ‘real’ world seems to be going well until he’s attacked by a middle-aged woman in the supermarket, who throws him to the floor and tries to strangle him. The kids at school start signing petitions to have him expelled, and even his dad seems increasingly unnerved by the boy.
For the first hour, this is masterful slow-burn melodrama, eking out the details of John’s crime and playing expertly with our sympathies. But as ambiguity is stripped away the film becomes less interesting, and the finale is weak. Still, lots of fascinating questions to mull on – and if the producers of ‘Game of Thrones’ haven’t already signed Munther up as their next junior psychopath, they’re missing a trick.