While most depictions of the afterlife see it in terms of cliches of angels on clouds or filled with the white light and loved ones come to greet you, there are a certain number of alternate interpretations that treat it with less than rosy sentiment. These might include the appealing sweet Japanese After Life (1998), which saw it in terms of a support team trying to recreate the perfect memory of the deceased, and more humorous takes such as Beetlejuice (1988), the bleakly funny Norwegian The Bothersome Man (2006) and Wristcutters: A Love Story (2006) that saw it as simply an extension of the same old dreary world and problems people still face in this life. Up There is a wryly funny comedy that sits in the same territory as these last two.
There is a sarcastic amusement to the film as it opens and we see recently deceased Burn Gorman being taken to the afterlife registrar, which is run just like a dreary bureaucratic terrestrial social services agency with forms to be filled out regarding ones death experiences, endless levels of red tape and people being shuffled into mind-numbing encounter groups where they are encouraged to find positive thoughts. Here the film starts to hold something undeniably amusing. It also gets an enormous degree of mileage out of treating the afterlife as simply the characters being in real world locations but where they are invisible and crucially unable to walk through walls. Thus they are caught underneath tables or in the backseats of an open-top car after the hood is put up because they are unable to get out, or else are constantly waiting for people to open doors so they can pass through. One of the films more amusing running gags is Burn Gorman and Aymen Hamdouchi being locked inside a dreary convenience store for the night by the local registrars because of Aymens constant peeping in on girls.
Burn Gorman, who came to notice in tvs Torchwood (2006-11), is an unusual actor. Outfitted in a suit that seems about three sizes too big for him, most of his performance here seems made up of a series of awkward facial grimaces and a method of walking askew while flailing his arms about. It is a performance that, despite his characters stated detachment, ends up eventually becoming endearing. The show is in large part stolen by Aymen Hamdouchi who gives an obnoxious, insensitive motormouth performance that never stops for a moment and proves utterly hilarious. This too is a character who eventually ends up endearing and the film becomes one about friendships in a bleak world of perpetual monotony.
Original Laid Off short film here:-