Afterlife of the Party (2021)
Director: Stephen Herek
Cast: Victoria Justice, Midori Francis, Robyn Scott, Adam Garcia, Timothy Renouf, Gloria Garcia, Spencer Sutherland, Kiroshan Naidoo
A social butterfly who dies during her birthday week is given a second chance to right her wrongs on Earth. – IMDB
Afterlife of the Party is a supernatural comedy film. There’s a certain trajectory for these films which focus mostly on the person who has lost their life trying to redeem themselves. In this case, its about Cassie (Victoria Justice) who is stuck in the in-between with a deadline to resolve three issues with three people on her list: her dad, her mom and her best friend, as they all cope with her death as it approaches its one year anniversary, each with their own sets of skeletons in the closet. With the help of her “guardian angel” almost like an emotional support, she starts to figure out how to connect with the living and move forward through her observations to figure out how to help them and herself to move on before the window of opportunity to amend her ways passes.
The journey for Cassie is one that is expected but feels less heavy-handed and fairly natural in Victoria Justice’s portrayal of her growth as it shifts from her self-centred party girl living self to the after death version which slowly starts to face up to the hard things and making this journey about helping them than about herself moving on. In that sense, the story does hit some good heartwarming notes as she does connect and resolve those feelings bit by bit. Victoria Justice fits into this role incredibly well and a lot of what makes this film fun to watch is her dynamic along with her best friend’s Lily played by Midori Francis. Midori Francis did a great job when she was leading the Netflix series Dash & Lily and it carries forward here although an older but still more closed character. However, the contrast of these two characters does keep them relatively grounded especially as Cassie tries to pull together Lisa and her little crush with the neighbor Max (Timothy Renouf). Those moments are definitely the more comedic moments. Much like the “guardian angel” role, Val played by Robyn Scott which is absolutely charming and fun to have around, it gives the film an overall fun vibe.
On the other hand, Cassie’s face-up to her dad (Adam Garcia) and her mom (Gloria Garcia) individually brings up a whole other element. The mom bits actually don’t pull the heartstrings as much as the connection she has with her sister, which ends up being a nice little surprise. While her relationship with her father which gets a good idea of where they stand from the beginning of the film actually rounds it up in a fairly heartwarming manner.
Overall, Afterlife of the Party is a pretty simple premise and relatively formulaic. However, it does feel better executed as its more natural trajectory and the characters are more appealing to watch. As much as Cassie feels like she isn’t great in the first impressions, she still has moments that do redeem herself throughout which feels well-transitioned and comfortable to watch. Plus, the cast all around is fun overall and does a decent job which makes this film a pretty entertaining.