Film - Next Exit

With the film coming to digital platforms next week, thanks to Blue Finch Film Releasing, Kraig Taylor-Bryant watched Next Exit...

The past is a dangerous thing. As human beings it can be easy to let it haunt us and define our life choices for the worst. Next Exit takes the “past coming back to haunt you” metaphor and takes it literally.

In the world of Next Exit, a group called Life Beyond have discovered a way for people to communicate with the dead and, in order to track the process of dying and passing into this “new life”, the group advertise that they are looking for volunteers.

This story follows Rose (Katie Parker) and Teddy (Rahul Kohli), two very alive lost souls, one running from the past, and the other looking for a future. Over the course of the film, Teddy who sees no meaning in his life, comes to find someone to care for and Rose, who is constantly haunted by her earlier mistakes in life, must learn to confront them.

The reluctant travellers also encounter other intriguing characters such as a priest, a hitchhiker and a regretful soldier, who each attempt to serve the story in offering how they feel about the dead connecting with the living. Unfortunately, I think only one of these characters does so successfully. The soldier’s story to Teddy and Rose during their game of “never have I ever” is easily one of the better parts of the film, however the religious/spiritual implications from the priest and hitchhiker feel rushed for the journey we are being taken on.

The Priest, Jack (Tongayi Chirisa), for example, talks about how the church has changed, saying that they have gotten rid of the idea of suicide being damned but Jack also believes that Life Beyond’s Doctor Stephens (Karen Gillan) is wrong to be taking on volunteers, saying that she’s “preying on the vulnerable” and “playing God”. Whilst this train of thought truly benefits both Rose and Teddy, from what we can tell, Teddy isn’t listening to the conversation anyway. So why not spread out some of this intriguing perspective? Like when Rose goes into the church to confess to a sin, Jack could share some of this in a church setting, instead of focusing on Teddy just waiting outside? It just feels like it's a bit low budget. 

When you’re trying to convey just how much the world has been changed by the supernatural, seeing more of the people in that world and how they feel about what’s changing seems vital to the world building. In terms of hearing about the events of the world through TV broadcasts and radio reports, I thought this was very clever. The story of a boy seeing his father again added a little bit to the positive side of this supernatural future, even though we know it's kind of a New Life publicity stunt. 

Talking of publicity, the casting of Karen Gillan as Doctor Stephens, whilst I’m sure it is beneficial for film for publicity reasons, seems almost too high profile for the lack of screen time she’s given. However, both Parker and Kohli offer good performances to this intriguing story, as over the course of the film their characters come to like each other and, at times, do try to make the most of the little things on their long road trip and open up about their past mistakes. However it does feel like, given the stakes of where they are going, we needed a bit more of “the little things” in life, that make it worth living as I think that’s what this film is trying to say.

In terms of a first watch, the film's questions as to if the two of them are truly willing to end their own lives keeps it engaging enough. Although I don’t truly believe that the film offers enough to merit more than a single watch, if you’re after a decent character study though, this base is covered at least.

Follow Kraig on Twitter @kraigandhismac

Blue Finch Film Releasing presents Next Exit on digital platforms 20th February.

Image - Blue Finch Film Releasing

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