FILM REVIEW | Afterlife of the Party

Coming along without much fanfare is a little gem of a film on Netflix.

Afterlife of the Party, starring former Nickelodeon child actress Victoria Justice (Victorious) in the lead role of Cassie, sees a popular party planner die after kicking of her 25th birthday week celebrations.

First introduced as a big personality who is embarrassed by her yoga instructor father (Adam Garcia, Coyote Ugly), reluctant to make sacrifices for her lifelong best friend Lisa (Midori Francis, Dash and Lily) and obsessed with projecting a happy, bubbly persona.

But when she awakens in her afterlife - in a purgatory-like in-between space that's neither 'Above' nor 'Below' - she's given five days to finish her unfinished business in the land of the living, and make things right with her dad, Lisa and Cassie's absent mother Sofia. Helping her along the way is her 'temporary guardian angel' Val (Robyn Scott), who has Touched By An Angel vibes without the cringe-factor.

What could have been a pretty shallow comedy actual has some depth to it and is surprisingly moving.

Moving comedy: Victoria Justice (right) plays lead Cassie alongside her temporary guardian angel Val (Robyn Scott) in new dramedy Afterlife of the Party, rated PG, streaming on Netflix now. Picture: Netflix

Moving comedy: Victoria Justice (right) plays lead Cassie alongside her temporary guardian angel Val (Robyn Scott) in new dramedy Afterlife of the Party, rated PG, streaming on Netflix now. Picture: Netflix

Afterlife of the Party is undeniably schmaltzy, but if you're willing to check your cynicism at the door and buy into the story, you're in for a treat. Cassie, being effectively a ghost, is unable to interact with anyone still alive during her five days Earthside, but in a surprise to everyone Lisa is able to both see and hear her - a testament to their strong bond.

Now a year on from Cassie's death, Lisa has hidden herself away from the world, existing only to work.

She hasn't struck up a relationship with her nice, nerdy neighbour despite their obvious attraction, and she's holding herself back from career advancement due to fear and the guilt of having survived while her best friend died - especially after they had a big fight.

Cassie helps Lisa find her courage and start taking action. She also must make her depressed father find his joy in life again.

The relationship with Cassie's mother is more complicated, and will surely ring true to any viewers who know the sting of absent parents.

Afterlife of the Party is an examination on grief in the guise of a lighthearted comedy, and it hits the spot perfectly.

Rating: 7/10

This story Afterlife of the Party film review: Comedy's surprising depth first appeared on Wollondilly Advertiser.