Roommates and best friends Cassie (Victoria Justice) and Lisa (Midori Francis) lie on the opposite ends of the lifestyle spectrum. Cassie is an extrovert who loves going out and partying. Lisa is an introvert who works at a museum and prefers solving puzzles in the house with Cassie rather than getting involved with a crowd. On the week of Cassie's birthday, the two get into a fight. Lisa is upset that her friend pretends to be someone else in front of other people. Cassie argues with Lisa and leaves to attend a party that has a waterslide that goes from the roof into the pool. She comes back drunk, knocks on Lisa's door, but she does not respond. The following day, Cassie enters the bathroom and slips, leading to her untimely death.
Cassie meets Val (Robyn Scott), a guardian angel, who informs her that she is currently in a place known as the In-Between (the name is pretty self-explanatory). Cassie is provided with a list on which the following words are written: Lisa, Sofia (aka Mom), and Dad. She has to mend her relationship with these three if she wants a place in heaven. If she fails, hell is waiting. And oh, Cassie has five earth days to complete her task.
I never once doubted whether the task would be accomplished or not. Afterlife of the Party is the kind of film where goodness seeps through every dialogue, face, and frame. You experience a sort of wonderful energy that you could only feel in the company of good people. Justice renders her character with great charisma and confidence. Here is an actor who has the power to single-handedly carry an entire film on her shoulders. She makes you laugh, cry, and empathise with her. Watching her, I was reminded of Drew Barrymore's heart-warming magnetism in Never Been Kissed. They make you care for their characters in such a way that you pray no harm or evil ever crosses their path. You don't mind if the plot veers off to a been-there-done-before direction because you just love watching the leading actor. Justice is fantastic with physical comedy. Her confused reactions after finding herself in the In-Between are simply superb. You identify with her sadness (at least if not initially then later) when she sees her estranged mother, even if you can't specifically relate. Justice is nothing but a force of gravity that keeps attracting you towards her.
And it's not just Justice, but the entire cast delightfully delivers. From Lisa to Cassie's mother (Gloria Garcia) and father (Adam Garcia), and the shop owner Emme (Myfanwy Waring), everyone makes you believe that they belong to this world and that some of them have known each other for a long time. All the actors impressively connect with one another and react to the dialogues instead of merely saying them. You are so lost in them that you give a pass to some logical flaws, like why does Cassie not try humming again after noticing that she appeared in front of Lisa through, well, humming? If Cassie can physically touch and move objects, why doesn't she try communicating with pen and paper? When Lisa interviews for a position, Cassie watches from outside, and you see her reflection in a glass. How could there be a reflection when she is a ghost?
But I loved how the film used music to reveal Cassie in front of Lisa and then her father. When reminiscing about a loved one, we don't usually recall the exact lines we may have said to each other. But we do remember the exact lyrics of a song we might have sung with that loved one. The most important lesson one can learn from Afterlife of the Party is that a good movie about good people comes with irresistible enticements and delivers uplifting rewards.