Victoria Justice stars as social butterfly Cassie in Netflix’s Afterlife of the Party, and fans can recognize her from her previous notable Nickelodeon career. The supernatural comedy was released on September 2nd and was directed by Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure director Stephen Herek. Though Justice has made a name for herself separate from her various roles on the Nickelodeon channel, she brings a high-energy bubbliness to the film that clearly harkens back to her sit-com roots.
Afterlife of the Party centers on quirky and vapid partier Cassie, who resolves to her introverted roommate and best friend Lisa (Dash & Lily’s Midori Francis) to celebrate her 25th birthday in an appropriately flashy fashion. When her celebrations go awry and Cassie ends up dead, she must then spend her last few ghostly days on Earth making amends to her various friends and family members, hoping to gain a spot in The Above. It’s a classic tale of posthumous introspection the likes of It’s a Wonderful Life or The Good Place, with a more humorous and glitzy tone.
Aside from her starring role in Netflix’s latest September release, Justice has had a number of wildly successful sit-com shows during Nickelodeon’s mid-2000s era. She’s best known as girl-next-door Tori Vega in the 2010 high school performing arts series Victorious, and for her role as Lola Martinez in the classic early 2000s series Zoey 101. Her past as a singer and actress has made her no stranger to performing roles, as she more recently played Janet in the 2016 TV Movie The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let’s Do the Time Warp Again. She’s slated to appear in the upcoming California King, which is currently in post-production.
Afterlife of the Party follows up a weekend of new Netflix releases, including the He’s All That Addison Rae film, but Justice’s performance sets it apart. Coming off of a near-lifetime of over-the-top roles typical of teen sit-coms, Justice is perfectly poised to pull off Afterlife of the Party’s Cassie. As a party planner, Cassie is appropriately glittery and often overwhelms the quieter Lisa with her sheer amount of energy. It’s the sort of fluffy character reminiscent of both of Justice’s major Nickelodeon roles, and her comedy chops hold up in the film to create a fun tone despite the character’s death. Her infectious enthusiasm is a tell-tale sign of a historied career in children’s and teen’s entertainment that includes large roles and minor appearances in shows like the original iCarly series, and it’s what elevates Cassie from a purely vapid party girl to a truly fun character.
Justice’s track record isn’t all wacky high school performances though, as a major part of her likeability in Victorious was her ability to be authentically heartfelt in the otherwise silly show. She balanced the bright glam of her characters with sometimes sorrowful but always genuine heart, and that skill is also what made Afterlife of the Party the touching film it aimed to be. Her Nickelodeon history led her perfectly to this role and allowed Justice to portray the character of Cassie with the strong presence she had. Afterlife of the Party proved Justice’s talent with Netflix’s romantic comedies, and fans will have to see what’s next for the actress in the coming film California King.