FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO HAVE YET TO SEE NEXT EXIT, THIS IS A NON-SPOILER REVIEW.
A suicide road trip movie with supernatural horror, sci-fi and, pitch black comedy elements… This is writer/director Mali Elfman’s Next Exit in a nutshell. And if that sounds to you like a film that is biting off way more than it can chew, than you would be right. I felt like I was on a rollercoaster ride of emotions during this experience… As one moment I was fully captivated and then the next, I would be completely turned off. It’s a frustrating film, to say the least.
WHAT IS NEXT EXIT ALL ABOUT?
When a research scientist makes national news proving she can track people into the afterlife, Rose sees a way out and Teddy sees his chance to finally make it. These two strangers, both harboring dark secrets, race to join the doctor’s contentious study and leave this life behind. While Rose is haunted by a ghostly presence that she can’t outrun, Teddy is forced to confront his past. As these two misfits humorously quarrel their way across the country, they meet people along the way who force them to reckon with what is really driving them.
HOW ARE THE TWO LEADS?
The best part of this movie, hands down, is the acting. Katie Parker and Rahul Kohli have fantastic chemistry; their banter is quick and has real bite. They both make for some deeply flawed anti-heroes, that are hard to like at times, but their raw vulnerability makes them relatable. If their performances hadn’t been as great as they are, this movie would probably have been unwatchable. But, luckily spending time getting to know these two ends up being an overall rewarding experience.
WARNING: MASSIVE TONAL SHIFTS AHEAD…
The biggest issue I find in Next Exit, is that it is never able to grapple with its massive tonal shifts. It wants to be too many things all at once, and it never finds a way to seamlessly blend these ingredients into something that is digestible. In one scene there will be an eerie ghost haunting our character, next there will be an intense and dramatic emotional beat, and then it will deviate to deadpan humor (which is 50/50 in efficacy). While by themselves these elements might work, together they come off as an uneven mixed-bag.
IS IT, AT LEAST, SOMETHING WE HAVEN’T SEEN BEFORE?
What I will say about Next Exit, is I fully embrace its ambition and originality. While we’ve seen films about the afterlife, and suicide, road trip comedies and tragic romances… we’ve never seen anything quite like what Mali Elfman is able to concoct here. And while there were many times during this film I felt bewildered by the narrative choices… There were just as many instances where I was left in awe and profound contemplation. Next Exit is a movie that dares to ask tough questions and forces its audience to search within themselves to answer them.
IS NEXT EXIT WORTH YOUR TIME?
So, is Next Exit worth watching? Although it is, at times, a confused and meandering mess… I would much rather take this film, than most of the paint-by-numbers studio fare coming out these days. If you’re willing to give this film the benefit of the doubt and look past its flaws… much like our two lead characters are able to do with one another… Then by the end, you will be treated to something quite moving and transcendental.
Next Exit will be In Select Theaters & Streaming on VOD November 4th, 2022.
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