Screamfest movie review: ‘Next Exit’ has provocative, poignant take on afterlife

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Rahul Kohli and Katie Parker star "Next exit." Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures

Rahul Kohli and Katie Parker star in Next Exit. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures

LOS ANGELES, Oct. 21 (UPI) — Next exit, which screened at the Screamfest horror film festival in Los Angeles, uses paranormal phenomena to tell a very human story. It is a mature and poignant take on the possibility of life after death.

dr Stevenson (Karen Gillan) proved the existence of ghosts. However, her Life Beyond research is in danger of being shelved, as it is essentially about people who die voluntarily, despite having conclusively demonstrated an afterlife.

Rose (Katie Parker) and Teddy (Rahul Kohli) are two of Life Beyond’s next contestants. They share a rental car en route to San Francisco for her trials, i.e. her death.

Writer/director Mali Elfman is building Next exit‘s sci-fi world with subtlety, but she’s clearly thought through every angle. Ghosts don’t populate the world everywhere, but the existence of ghosts has changed everything.

Evidence of life after death has made living people less afraid, so crime has decreased because victims are not afraid of death. It affects many religions and proves that there is no hell either.

Some people long for death in order to join the afterlife. Others don’t want their loved ones or even acquaintances to leave.

The script is really smart in how it distributes this information. Rose tries not to speak, but is coerced into it by Teddy and other people they meet on the street.

Next exit is mainly a road trip film in a world where this technology or phenomenon exists. Rose occasionally has some ghostly visions, but that’s not the point.

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There are enough ghosts to qualify Next exit played at Screamfest, where it was shown on Wednesday. But it probably won’t be advertised as a horror film. It’s about what kind of people follow Life Beyond.

These are essentially people who are afraid to live. Will Rose and Teddy find the courage before coming to San Francisco?

And these characters are not experts. you see dr Stevenson on TV, but Rose and Teddy are just people living in this world where the discovery was made.

Everyone Rose and Teddy meet has their own agenda, just as Rose and Teddy attend for different reasons. Some ask very pertinent questions about how much is still unknown about Stevenson’s discovery, which applies to any new technology.

There have been many cinematic depictions of the afterlife, from heavenly cloud cities to irreverent ones defend your life Next exit offers a candid, provocative point of view that captivates two hours and provides food for thought.

Magnolia Pictures is released Next exit in theaters November 4th.

Fred Topel, who attended film school at Ithaca College, is a UPI entertainment writer based in Los Angeles. He has been a professional film critic since 1999, a Rotten Tomatoes critic since 2001, and a member of the Television Critics Association since 2012. Read more about his work in entertainment.

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