Afterlife of the Party- Review: While rom coms are the usual fare for Netflix and practically any streaming platform, how often have you seen one with a supernatural element as part of the film. Now that’s quite a refreshing take. Well, yeah, it is, and that’s what initially attracted me to this film. Afterlife of the Party, starring Victoria Justice, Robyn Scott, Adam Garcia, Midori Francis, Spencer Sutherland, and Timothy Renouf in pivotal roles, focuses on the efforts of one character to bring closure to herself and her loved ones after her untimely demise.
Per the premise of the film, Cassie loves to party…until she dies in a freak accident. Now, this social butterfly needs to right her wrongs on Earth if she wants to earn her wings.
The supernatural element may provide a hint as to her task not being straightforward and that’s what helps the film move along. Given the earning wings narrative, it reminded me of It’s a Wonderful Life, where Clarence Oddbody was sent to Earth to help George Bailey realize the value of his life in order to get his wings.
What works for Afterlife of the Party?
Victoria Justice plays Cassandra aka Cassie, a young girl who isn’t serious about anything except partying. Right from the first scene itself, the director, Stephen Herek (he also directed 101 Dalmatians and Mr. Holland’s Opus), portrays her as the party animal. We see her trying on clothes and bouncing to the music, before jumping the line at a club, all for her birthday week celebration.
Immediately, Herek managed to make me think of Life of the Party as an apropos term to describe Cassie. While doing so, he had set the ball rolling as we saw the friction between Cassie and Lisa (Midori Francis). Furthermore, the key players and locations in the tale were established right from the opening 10 minutes. Here, we even got a dose of the lead’s self-centered nature.
This helped the film, as the subsequent scenes didn’t have to resort to flashbacks to get the audience up to speed with what had transpired, or Cassie’s motivations for her task. Of course, Robyn Scott’s Val could have featured more over here, but it’s quite good that Afterlife of the Party didn’t overuse her and let Cassie figure out her own problems. This ensured that the supernatural element was restricted.
What I like about Afterlife of the Party is that it doesn’t feel stretched at any point. The arguments didn’t drag, neither did the film’s pivotal scene, nor did the tearjerker, and believe me, there are many such scenes that could get to you. The regret, guilt, and sorrow that feature in Carrie Freedle’s story are laced with equal moments of nostalgia and enjoyment. Afterlife of the Party’s cast delivered these moments through solid acting.
Cassie’s evolution showed, and the memory of that selfish version of herself was absent, even in the fight later on in the film. Another way to identify this was the manner in which she changed her outfits (kudos to the film’s costume team), despite having the power to just imagine herself in anything she wanted. From day one’s flashy outfit, reminiscent of Taylor Swift’s dress from the 2018 American Music Awards, right till day five’s regular outfit, she toned down on her immense selfish love for costumes.
What didn’t work for Afterlife of the Party?
Unfortunately, the predictable nature of rom coms came to the fore with the ebb and flow of emotions from the main character. She found her task tough, then she believed she had succeeded, only to realize that her task was really challenging. In the end, despite the slight glitch, there was no doubt in my head about what the result was. Also, Afterlife of the Party may have been a bit better without the apparating scenes when Lisa and Max were together. Then again, that moment will be remembered. Split-second comic relief vs completely unnecessary moments will be quite a debate.
The songs in Afterlife of the Party aren’t memorable and there’s just no tune from this film that will remain with you. Also, I don’t think people take it so well when they see someone who isn’t supposed to be around just randomly appear. Well, maybe I was expecting a bit more of a reaction from Lisa at that moment in the film.
Overall, the film is a typical made-for-television venture. Well, that was expected once we saw Freedle’s name associated with the flick. Hallmark’s TV rom coms seem to have faded away into the Netflix era and Afterlife of the Party seems to be just the perfect film to watch if you are in the mood for a sentimental ride.
Rating: 2.5 stars
Afterlife of the Party is now streaming on Netflix.