Netflix’s Afterlife of the Party is just a teenage rom-com version of “It’s a Wonderful Life” with some really deteriorating alterations. But okay, “Who are we” to judge an “Afterlife.”
Directed by Stephen Herek from a screenplay written by Carrie Freedle, Afterlife of the Party follows an energetic party-goer, Cassie, who believes there is nothing more to life than partying. She enjoys each moment as if the next one could be her last, and that’s what exactly happens. Cassie dies suddenly, but she comes back. She returns as a spirit to finish her unfulfilled task to achieve “Heaven finally.”
Cassandra “Cassie” Adeline Garcia (Victoria Justice) lives with her best friend cum roommate, Lisa (Midori Francis), in a rented apartment in San Diego. A fun-loving Cassie insistently takes introvert Lisa to a night bar to celebrate her 25th birthday week. However, during the lively celebration, Lisa feels Cassie walks off the edge to impress people around and become the life and soul of a celebration. Outside the bar, Lisa tries to persuade her best friend that there are more things in life than just partying around. But Cassie, in her wild spirit, argues that she is just jealous of her vibrant lifestyle because she works at a museum and spends her “happy hours” hiding at her desk. The revelations quickly turn into an argument, and Cassie walks away, leaving Lisa alone.
Late at night, a heavily drunk Cassie returns to her apartment and tries to apologize for the argument. Still, Lisa doesn’t open her room door. In frustration, Cassie ruins Lisa’s jigsaw puzzle of Mona Lisa and hits the bed. The following morning, Cassie wakes up with a hangover and accidentally slips into the bathroom. She hits her head on the toilet seat that leads to her sudden death.
Cassie’s spirit wakes on a couch and finds her temporary guardian angel, Val. The angel informs bewildered Cassie about her sudden death and tells her that her spirit is stuck in “In-Between” the two realms, i.e., Heaven and Hell. The “In-Between” is for those who have unfinished business back on Earth, and thus they get a second chance to make things right. Cassie receives a list (more like an afterlife bucket list) to reconcile her relationship with the mentioned people. If she successfully bridges the gaps, she will be sent to “Heaven” before her time runs out. Cassie gets five days to pacify things with her father, mother, and best friend, Lisa.
As Cassie’s spirit reaches Earth, she realizes that she has been gone for a year now. Things are incredibly challenging, primarily when she can’t directly communicate with any person. Will she be able to finish the task before the deadline?
‘Afterlife of the Party’ Ending Explained
If there is one thing that is always predictable in formula rom-com films, it is their “happy endings.” Well, of course, if a filmmaker is ready to take a chance. But Afterlife of the Party is not that film.
Cassie lived her life on the edge, but her best friend Lisa had a much more cautious approach towards it. In a way, there were like the two halves of a human being who completed and complemented each other. When Cassie returned to Earth, only Lisa was able to see her spirit. Through the “cinematic liberty taken for granted,” Cassie acted as a matchmaker between Lisa and her year-long crush on the neighbor, Max. Cassie also pushed and motivated Lisa to interview for junior field researcher and assistant to Dr.Redding. Thanks to Cassie, Lisa got a perfect life, with an ideal job and a perfect boyfriend. Phew, that was easy.
The second person on the list was Cassie’s father, Howard “Howie.” Although Howard didn’t see Cassie until the end, he quickly grabbed her presence. Howard’s life went off the rails after Cassie’s death. He left his Yoga and Mediation and started living a toxic loner life. When Cassie arrived on the scene, she organized everything in Howard’s house. She arranged a peaceful yoga space to persuade Howard to shed melancholy and move on. A receptive Howard accepted the signs of the Universe and cleansed his life. However, Cassie and her mother, Sofia, left a void in Howard’s life that needed to be filled. And again, Cassie played cupid and set a date for her dad with the baker, Emma.
The third and the final person on the list demanded much more hustle and emotional turmoil from Cassie. Her mother, Sofia, left her and her father and moved out. Cassie didn’t talk to her after that, and she probably blamed herself for it. She never understood why her mother left her, and thus the journey to bridge the gap was to find the required answers.
Through Lisa (as the mediator), Cassie found that Sofia wasn’t ready for the responsibility of being a mother and a wife, and thus she ran out. She moved to London, but she felt guilty about not taking Cassie with her in the present. Sofia grieved and confessed that she had her selfish reasons for moving out, and though she can’t change the past, she intends to mend it. She apologized, but Cassie wasn’t ready to forgive. Though, in the end, Cassie found Sofia visiting Howard and apologizing for everything she did. The chemistry between her father and mother convinced Cassie to let go of the bitterness. When she did, Cassie felt lighter and brighter, like a spirit angel.
In the end, Cassie pacified her relationship with her father and mother, and their names disappeared from the list, but Lisa’s name was still intact. Out of the blue, Cassie figured out that she needed to make Mona “Lisa” smile to complete the list. She found the last piece of the Mona Lisa jigsaw puzzle, but it was too late. Her time ran out, and Val took her back to the “In-Between” world. However, she finished the puzzle before leaving. For her excellent faith and selfless acts in the afterlife, the jury overlooked the deadline clause and granted “Heaven” to Cassie.
Cassie’s testimony aided in Val’s promotion, who finally became “an angel on the shoulder.” She always aspired to be a guardian angel who’s there through all the stages of life, and thanks to Cassie, Val finally achieved her dream. On the elevator to heaven, Cassie met her dream superstar, Kooper Keene. He died while aiding people in a disaster-stricken area and thus escorted Cassie to paradise. As they say, “I think this is the beginning of a beautiful relationship in Afterlife.”
Afterlife of the Party is a 2021 Romantic Comedy film directed by Stephen Herek. It is streaming on Netflix.