Next Exit movie review & film summary (2022)

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They also come across a trio of people who conveniently represent the various ways in which humanity has reacted to the news that there is life after death—a priest (Tongayi Chirisa) who is trying to make himself useful now that most of the solace provided by religion has been undermined, a Border Patrol agent (Tim Griffin) who is convinced that the spirits will be more consumed with getting revenge on those who did them wrong than in reconnecting with loved ones) and a hippie named Karma (Diva Zappa) who is all for living life to the fullest while you can.

The problem with “Next Exit” is that the road trip that makes up the bulk of the film, like most actual road trips, gets a little monotonous after a while. Neither one of the two main characters nor their respective traumas are especially interesting or engaging, and the changes they undergo along the way all seem pre-programmed by the needs of the screenplay rather than to serve their emotional development. The scenes involving the three strangers they encounter are just a little too on-the-nose to be effective, though the one involving the priest is the best thanks to the quietly moving performance by Chirisa. The conclusion also doesn’t work either—it doesn’t supply the necessary emotional fireworks and by pointedly avoiding certain existential questions (such as the possibility that the pain and torment in one life could potentially extend to the next) comes perilously close to feeling like a cop out.

But “Next Exit” does have some good things going for it. The performances from Parker and Kohli are both fairly strong and effective, enough to make you wish their characters were given a little more depth and complexity. Although the film more or less pushes most of the details of day-to-day existence in a world where death is not the end, there are some tantalizing hints offered here and there, including one morbidly funny bit than seemingly pays homage to another classic film involving both a cross-country auto trip and the constant shadow of death. If “Next Exit” had more elements like this, it might have pushed it over the line to become something worth seeing instead of the near-miss that it is. Although it doesn’t really come together, “Next Exit” is reasonably ambitious and made with just enough skill to make curious to see what Elfman does for a follow-up. 

Now playing in theaters and available on demand.


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