The Movie Waffler New Release Review [VOD] - NEXT EXIT | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review [VOD] - NEXT EXIT

New Release Review [VOD] - NEXT EXIT
Two suicidal strangers embark on a road trip to a euthanasia facility.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Mali Elfman

Starring: Katie Parker, Rahul Kohli, Rose Mciver, Tongayi Chirisa, Tim Griffin, Diva Zappa, Nico Evers-Swindell, Karen Gillan

next exit poster

From It Happened One Night to The Sure Thing, throwing an initially bickering but ultimately bonding couple on a road trip together has proven a successful storytelling format. With her feature debut Next Exit, writer/director Mali Elfman (daughter of composer Danny Elfman) takes this format and gives it a melancholy, supernatural spin.

next exit review

Next Exit opens with what seems like a typical horror movie sequence. A young boy is startled by a ghost in the middle of the night. But rather than cowering under his covers, the boy is delighted by this spectral visitor, who happens to be his late father. The incident is captured on camera, seemingly proving that there is life after death and validating the work of controversial scientist Dr. Stevenson (Karen Gillan). With suicide rates soaring as people decide to escape this mortal coil to try their luck in the afterlife, Stevenson has established an institute that will allow people to cross over under controlled supervision and in a painless manner.

Thrown together by a car rental snafu are Rose (Rebecca Hall lookalike Katie Parker) and Teddy (Rahul Kohli), two New York residents who have been chosen to become part of Stevenson's research. They both have very different reasons for opting out of their current lives. Rose has been deeply depressed for several years but has never been able to bring herself to take her own life, while Teddy seems to simply believe entering the afterlife might be a bit of a lark.

next exit review

As the two make their way across the country to Stevenson's San Francisco institute, they learn a thing or two about each other, and themselves, as is the way of these movies. We've seen this dynamic before, so it's not too hard to guess that Rose and Teddy's initial disdain will give way to affection. What we haven't seen is this trope employed in an examination of what it means to literally be alive. While we're certain Teddy and Rose will fall for one another, what's uncertain throughout is whether they'll change their minds about ending their lives. Right up to the movie's final moments we're still in suspense regarding this decision, and it's testament to Elfman's non-judgemental storytelling that either resolution might have come off as a suitably affecting ending.

next exit review

Next Exit is never preachy on its thorny subject of euthanasia. It's clearly on the side of sticking with life, but it refuses to victim blame its characters for deciding they have little left to live for. Rose and Teddy become so likeable that we can't help but root for them to change their minds, but by the end of their journey we've come to accept whatever decision they might make. Parker and Kohli's empathetic performances go a long way to winning us over. They share a remarkable chemistry, convincing as two lost souls who might just have found something worth living for.

Next Exit
 is on UK/ROI VOD from February 20th.