10 Films to watch if you Liked Afterlife of the Party on Netflix
The Victoria Justice starrer ‘Afterlife of the Party’ was recently released on Netflix to a warm reception. The film revolved around the return of Cassie, a bumbling party-planner, as a soul to alleviate her unfinished business with her distant parents and best friend Lisa, assisted by her guardian angel Val. While it rakes in the plaudits, we decided to bring you a list of similar films that deal with souls roaming the earth to find moksh. These films will definitely work up your appetite if you liked Afterlife of the Party. Drop us the films you feel should have been here in the comments box. Happy reading!
1. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
Fran Capra’s iconic Christmas classic is one of the most cherished films of yesteryear. Its traditional setup of a tightly wound family, a man with strong morals, and the triumph of good over evil is a staple for generational moviegoers. Every season man Patrick Stewart stars as George Bailey, who has a guardian angel sent for him on Christmas Eve as he contemplates suicide to save his name and family. Capra, who was then already an established name, never seems out of his depths. His vision in bringing the story to life is grounded and self-aware in giving the viewer enough time to understand the story’s central conflict and understanding its limits. Without excessively diversifying his thematic landscape, Capra’s focused attention pays off rich dividends. Bailey becomes a vessel carrying his message of how the life of one person is not solely his – it affects the lives of many people. The consequences of actions, good or bad, are brunt by those who depend on you.
It’s a Wonderful Life is an ageless spectacle, having evolved from a Christmas film about the importance of family to a riveting political statement. Its realization of a world without compassion and kindness is simply terrifying. The devolution of human virtue and the amplification of commercialism are delicately balanced, prone to disruption with the ever so slightest change. The sequence where Bailey runs around town after wishing he was never born elevates the film and unfurls a touching discovery: life is a precious gift.
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2. The Devil’s Backbone (2001)
Guillermo del Toro’s fascination with apparitions and their human side has made it possible for many horror films to be more than that. The Devil’s Backbone shapes up to become so much more than an empty foray of jump scares and lumpy ghosts. Its tenderness in juggling the civil war and a rough childhood during those times is immensely evocative. Toro’s strong sense of traditional justice and the superiority of goodness often dictates what will happen next. It guides the viewer towards his perception of how things ought to be against how they really are. Jacinto’s fate, for instance, is locked in as soon as the audience discovers the horrors of his greed.
His continuing dictum of actions never leaves any possibility of redemption, thereby limiting the probable outcomes. Toro’s real strength is in sensitizing you to the pain that souls that leave the mortal realm without ever wanting to feel. The connection between these planes of existence is often spotted and explored by children first, as it happens here. The Devil’s Backbone will not come across as groundbreaking due to several similar iterations post its release, but all hands down to the OG.
3. Soul (2020)
Pete Docter has brought about a sweeping revolution in the capabilities of animated films. He has unlocked its potential to reach out to adults in a way that normal cinema has never been able to. His series of thought-provoking musings on adulthood and its accompanying insecurities continues with ‘Soul’, which might be his finest to date. Joe, a talented jazz musician, hopes to one day graduate from his job as a school teacher to a professional player. On the most important day of his life post getting accepting to perform with the legendary Dorothea Williams, Joe accidentally dies. Once in the afterlife, he is destined for the Great Beyond but instead swims to the Great Before to try and get back. Along with 22, a soul under training for Earth, he makes his way back, only to realize the missing piece from his life.
Life is not about fulfilling a purpose or finding a special one to make it meaningful. It is about memories and experiences that bring a smile to your face and drives you to enjoy its benevolence. Docter defines his message in a manner that is neither too altruistic nor lacking in intelligence. Jamie Foxx is key to his balancing act, adding an assured presence behind the scenes. Despite not being a pure voice artist, he pulls off Joe as very few accomplished actors could. ‘Soul’ is an instant pick-you-up film that only gets better with every viewing.
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4. Ghost Town (2008)
‘Ghost Town’ revolves around Dr. Pincus (Gervais) and his newly endowed capability to see and hear dead people after himself dying for seven minutes during a medical procedure. A recently deceased Frank Herlihy blackmails Pincus into breaking up his widow Gwen with her boyfriend, a human rights lawyer, believing it to be the reason why his soul can’t be absolved. Almost every other film on the list works on the idea that the dead have unfinished business on earth and must complete the same to be set free. Instead, ‘Ghost Town’ accounts the delirious wandering to the grief and attachment of the living; their inability to let go of the loved ones who passed away. Making a fresh start in life can be troublesome but not impossible. When you find the right person, every day is a new day.
Rickey Gervais is triumphant in putting the ‘com’ in ‘rom-com’. His brilliant turn as the anti-social Pincus is as hilarious as it is adorned with sentimental heft. Credit must also be given to the writers who exploit the tailwinds from Gervais’ comic genius well despite not being able to make the chemistry between him and Tea Leoni work. Greg Kinnear is often relegated to play second fiddle but is charming in his neatly dressed tux. ‘Ghost Town’ is a charming romantic comedy and a refreshing Hollywood take on the subject of death and the afterlife.
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5. Naukri (1978)
Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s ‘Naukri’ is a candid and raging mouthpiece about the abject condition of working-class India before independence. The representation is through the life, or afterlife, of Ranjit Gupta, a former badminton prodigy whose rising star was condemned by war and the untimely demise of his father. Rajesh Khanna stars as Gupta along with Randhir Kapoor as Captain Saab, a wandering soul whom the former’s soul meets after he commits suicide. Just like Clarence shows George the life of people around him if he was never born, Captain, albeit not a guardian angel, guides Ranjit through his own tumultuous situation. Most of the first half is based around the flashback of Ranjit’s life, while Mukherjee’s brooding socialist spirit is reflected strongly in the second half, where the film free falls from focusing on Ranjit’s life to putting the colonial rule under the scanner. His indictment of the British invaders spares no fellow conspirators.
‘Naukri’ celebrates the value of life and the joy of living through pain and suffering. It never intends to evoke pity or even sympathy to the circumstance of the helpless but shows the resilience of the human spirit to never back down. Without an elitist moral ground, Mukherjee allows the charm and emotional depth of his leading stars to convince the viewer of his nationalist ideals. Minus the typical melodrama, ‘Naukri’ is a fine ode to the mysterious creature that is the man.
6. The Others (2001)
There is just something about Spanish filmmakers and horror films that never seems to go wrong. Every time a Spanish director helms a project, the outlook is refreshing and inspiring. The streak started with ‘The Others’, a remarkable period piece that owes its foundational arc to ‘The Sixth Sense’. Nicole Kidman leads the cast in a typical performance with nuanced strokes of melancholy and indignation. She plays her imperfect character with a certain degree of authority and conviction that is riveting and creepy; the two things ‘The Others’ has in abundance.
The mystery at its core is like an onion: peel and peel, cry and cry. The aching in the movie proliferates with new pieces of information and softens you against the turmoil of the Stewart family. ‘The Others’ is also one of the only few films on the list that has a negative connotation with respect to the souls of the dead. Grace’s remark, in the end, declaring the house as her family’s indicates almost malevolent protection of their privacy.
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7. Heaven Can Wait (1978)
An innocuous mistake by an angel forces a star quarterback’s soul to retire untimely from his physical body. Now irate, he goes back into the body of a successful industrialist to fulfill his destiny of winning the Superbowl. ‘Heaven Can Wait’ seems determined to push its singular goal towards its resolution. Warren Beatty’s Joe changes several bodies before he can return to his place up above. Being pretty faithfully based on “Here Comes Mr. Jordan”, it’s no surprise that ‘Heaven Can Wait’ has a somewhat old-fashioned feel. The clever plot of the original was kept mostly intact while updating major players in the story and its humor. The film’s most fascinating aspects lie between this incertitude of what is life and death, how some things come at the cost of others, and Beatty’s tactful direction never takes its message too seriously or in a macabre manner, keeping more in the tradition of Lubitch and Capra’s films.
Beatty not only proves himself to be a perfectly competent film director but the picture also provides the star with one of his best roles as an actor. Beatty’s lovable stud act is distinguished from other characters like him who do not necessarily have a great fan following. The film’s screenplay takes Joe from earth to heaven and back to earth again through an assortment of various bodies, and Beatty’s easygoing charisma holds it all together and keeps viewers involved in the story and fixated on the screen. This is a star performance if there ever was one, and Beatty has rarely been more likable.
8. The Lovely Bones (2009)
Peter Jackson is among the vanguard of technological advances in Hollywood vis-a-vis special effects. The creator of arguably the greatest trilogy in film history has an observant eye for detail and conceptualizing things as few can. But it overshadows his poignant narrative sense and artistic abilities as a director. ‘The Lovely Bones’ proves his disposition and attitude as a holistic filmmaker. The story follows a teenage Susie (Saorise Ronan) and the subsequent investigation of her murder as she finds herself stuck in the “in-between”, a place from where souls either go to heaven or hell. The unnerving visual presentation is broadly atmospheric, replete with moments showing simple life at its best and its worst. Paeodephilia is introduced as decrypt and deceitful as in real life and let on with an imposing, graphical tone.
Susie’s heartbreak is probably the most difficult moment to digest. You are forced to kind of avert your gaze from the screen and wince in agony. ‘The Lovely Bones’ is full of similar, hardened truths about life that people don’t normally endorse in mundane conversations. At the surface, ‘The Lovely Bones’ might not boast of offering a lot for cinema purists in terms of exposition and character development. Like many other films exploring the darkness of human nature, it will discomfort you. But watching it is necessary; to confront reality and violence that grows stronger and vicious every passing day.
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9. The Orphanage (2007)
JA Bayona’s directorial debut is about an orphan who returns to her childhood haven to reopen the closed facility. Her son, Simon, claims to have befriended a masked child named Tomas. Simon goes missing after a fight with her mother Laura, leaving her to resolve the mystery that involves a harrowing past of the house. ‘The Orphanage’ continues the celebrated lineage of Spanish films that work on communication between humans and spirits.
Bayona rarely uses genre tropes to scare the viewer; instead, he tries to establish a dialogue that centers around compassion and righting the wrongs of immoral men. His grip on maintaining the intrigue is firm but is also extended to carve out a meaningful purpose from the story. The souls do not yearn to be set free and begin the transition to the afterlife but crave a mother they never had – and Laura, the son she lost too soon. Finding happiness and peace is not always about closure; at times, it is seeking things that do not occur so generally.
10. The Sixth Sense (1999)
The origin of the Shyamalan twist is a natural entrant in the list. It still rules the roster when it comes to classic film reveals. Bruce Willis’ character, akin to Cassie, wanders around the mortal plane without ever realizing that he’s a soul with unfinished business. Cole’s gift, or burden, of seeing spirits that feel unfulfilled and helping them on to the afterlife is similar to the powers that Val, the guardian angel, had.
Although the highlight of the film is undoubtedly the climactic twist, ‘The Sixth Sense’ worked on a similar premise in Guillermo del Toro’s films that all ghosts are not menacing and vile: viewing them as helpless souls who could not conclude their plans while being alive is also an option. Willis and Osment give landmark performances as the leading duo. The film’s ambition and prospects rested squarely on their shoulders and their turns certainly elevate it.