Netflix’s latest supernatural comedy, Afterlife of The Party, gives a new take on life after death. While shows or films about the afterlife usually include heaven, hell, and all that falls in-between for the morally gray characters, in Afterlife of The Party, there’s another door—getting a second chance to do the right thing. The in-between place exists in this re-envisioned afterlife, but souls don’t stay stuck there for the rest of eternity. Rather, they must pass a test: either redeem themselves and get sent “up” to heaven or fail and go “down” to hell. However, the soul may face pressure because the test is timed, leaving the deceased folk racing to make things right before their time expires. Or, at least that’s the case with life-of the party, and recently deceased, Cassie (Victoria Justice.)
Cassie begins the film self-centered, a hard partier before her death who recently rudely ignored her best friend, Lisa (Midori Francis). While Cassie and Lisa, both twenty-five years old, have been friends since first grade, Cassie doesn’t value their friendship. Even when Lisa tells Cassie exciting life news and wants to go out and celebrate, Cassie blows her off once again. Right out of the gate we get an understanding of who these two women are with Cassie being a social butterfly (a sometimes selfish one) while Lisa is more of an introvert.
When Cassie eventually dies from a ridiculous accident she meets her guardian angel, who doesn’t appear to have a cold bone in her body. All she wants is for Cassie to succeed and head up to heaven. The guardian angel serves as an interesting character, simply because she’s Cassie’s guide to this whole new afterlife.
There’s a lot that doesn’t make sense about Afterlife of the Party, including how Cassie is technically an angel while still trying to prove herself worthy of heaven. It would make more sense if Cassie was a ghost for the majority of the film, especially since she seemingly has the characteristics of one. On Earth, she’s now invisible to (most) people. However, Cassie can also move and touch anything, making her less like a ghost despite her invisibility. Sure, making the character Cassie a ghost would make more sense from a more logical standpoint, but if the screenwriter didn’t make her an angel, then Cassie wouldn’t have been able to accomplish a lot of things she did in the film (such as play matchmaker).
If you look past some of the plot contrivances, Afterlife of the Party is a comical movie that reminds you to make the most out of moments with people you’re close to because one day they might not be by your side. The film is reminiscent of other narratives out there such as The Good Place and even Groundhog’s Day, which does take away from the originality. Like The Good Place’s Eleanor Shellstrop, Cassie is at first seen as selfish and rude to others, but in the end, redeems herself and becomes a better, likable person. Also, like Eleanor, Cassie learns from her mistakes and starts to think more about others than she had in the past.
Then, similar to Groundhog’s Day, Cassie cannot pass on to heaven until she makes amends and passes her afterlife test. While the main character from Groundhog’s Day couldn’t die until he started acting nicer to people around him, Cassie can’t achieve paradise until she changes her behavior and improves upon herself.
Cassie’s ‘test’ is to cross off three names: her best friend Lisa, her mom, and her dad. She gets a physical piece of paper, too, from her guardian angel, telling her which relationship’s she needs to mend before her time’s up. Along the way, Cassie learns she hasn’t been the best friend or daughter, and she finds herself determined to make these three people on her list happier.
The highlight of the film is the reconnecting bond between Cassie and Lisa and the humorous exchanges between them.
While Afterlife of The Party may hold resemblances to these other narratives, the similarity does not take away from the film. After all, Afterlife of the Party may follow a similar concept, but the plot differentiates itself from the other works.
Another interesting movie-making decision of Afterlife of the Party is the clothes Cassie wears. When she’s now an “angel,” Cassie gets to magically put on any outfit she wants (but only once a day). While on her first day she chooses to wear a shiny party dress, her clothes become less formal as the days go on. In a way, her shift in clothing shows how Cassie slowly grows as a person. Rather than just being the party animal, Cassie learns it’s more important to be a good friend first (since going to the club is what distanced her relationship with Lisa).
Afterlife of The Party is a feel-good movie. While in the beginning, Cassie can be somewhat annoying, by the end, we see she’s a better version of herself. If you like narratives in which characters have redemption arcs, or you like when a character gets a second chance, you should add Afterlife of The Party to your queue.
Afterlife of The Party is available on Netflix. Here is the trailer.