Movie Reviews: “Next Exit” and “Bubba Ho-Tep” (North Bend Film Festival)

August 14, 2022

Written by Joseph Perry

Joseph Perry is the Film Festival Editor for Horror Fuel; all film festival related queries and announcements should be sent to him at [email protected] He is a contributing writer for the "Phantom of the Movies VideoScope" and “Drive-In Asylum” print magazines and the websites Gruesome Magazine, Diabolique Magazine, The Scariest Things, B&S About Movies, and When It Was Cool. He is a co-host of the "Uphill Both Ways" pop culture nostalgia podcast and also writes for its website. Joseph occasionally proudly co-writes articles with his son Cohen Perry, who is a film critic in his own right. A former northern Californian and Oregonian, Joseph has been teaching, writing, and living in South Korea since 2008.

Next Exit

Writer/director Mali Elfman’s Next Exit is a science-fiction drama with supernatural elements that raises big questions, such as the ever-discussed “Is there life after death and if we discovered there was, how would we handle it?” but eschews attempting to answer such mysteries by instead focusing on the strained relationship between two strangers sharing a car together to willingly end their lives as part of a scientific experiment after it is confirmed that there is, indeed, an afterlife. Rose (Katie Parker of The Haunting of Hill House and Absentia) is haunted by what she has done wrong in the past as well as by a ghost, and she is bitter, angry, and ready to die. Teddy (Rahul Kohli of The Haunting of Bly Manor and iZombie) has issues from being abandoned by his father as a child and sees this opportunity as his chance to finally do something big. The pair are at odds from the beginning but as they unveil their backstories, their reasons for wanting to end their lives on Earth become clear and Next Exit delves into gripping poignancy and well-earned emotional investment. Yes, there are ghosts in the film, but they are side players in the big picture rather than the focus of Elfman’s beautifully written, directed, and shot feature, which is bolstered by top-notch performances from Parker and Kohli, who have superb chemistry together.

 

Bubba Ho-Tep

 

Presented courtesy of The Silver Sphere Corporation and American Genre Film Archive, writer/director Don Coscarelli’s 2002 cult classic Bubba Ho-Tep holds up as well as ever, bringing laughter and pathos to viewers as well as chills and thrills. Sure, some of the special effects show their seams — they did so even when this low-budget charmer was originally released, as well — but the performances by Bruce Campbell as an elderly Elvis Presley confined to a nursing home and Ossie Davis as a Black Man who claims to be former President John F. Kennedy are both terrific as they team up to battle an Egyptian mummy bent on stealing the souls of residents in said nursing facility. Director Don Coscarelli, who was already a cult favorite thanks to his Phantasm series of films, wrote the sharp screenplay based on a short story by Joe R. Lansdale, and he delivers a spirit-filled horror adventure fueled by highly likable characters who may need walkers and wheelchairs to get around, but are nevertheless going to do everything they can to stop the titular mummy from claiming more souls.

 

Next Exit and Bubba Ho-Tep screened as part of North Bend Film Festival, which took place in North Bend, Washington, from August 4–7, 2022. 

 

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