When a high school reunion goes wrong, and a guest is found murdered in his own home at the VIP afterparty, Detective Danner (played by Tiffany Haddish) and her team swoop in to interview the guests, search for clues and solve the case. Everyone is a suspect and no one can leave until the killer has been revealed.
A slick, fast-paced murder mystery comedy, which unravels episode by episode as the clues start to appear and secrets start to emerge – I enjoyed being part of Danner’s investigation, as the detective storytelling format felt familiar but had an interesting new twist on the whodunnit genre.
The series starts by setting the scene, playing out a high school reunion, introducing us to the characters -including the star guest, Xavier, formally known as Eugene (played by Dave Franco). Since high school, he has gone on to become a world-famous pop-star and actor (playing, amongst other roles, the lead in a film adaptation of Hungry, Hungry Hippos – why has that never been made?!). Presented from the off as an annoying slimeball, he is instantly dislikeable to the viewer, however most of his former classmates fawn at his feet. After the reunion, he invites them to his lavish house for a glitsy afterparty, but tragically ends up falling off the balcony of his cliff-side mansion and is found dead with a few helpful clues (and red herrings) strewn around to boot.
There is a huge array of different characters at the party playing ‘to type’, all with hidden secrets and potential motives – the stereotypical jock, the mean girls clique (the ‘Jennifers’) and the nerd are amongst the suspects, but, without a doubt, my favourite has to be Walt (played by Jamie Demetriou – best known for Stath Lets Flats).
He plays the invisible classmate at the reunion that no-one remembers from their own school days – poor guy! His awkward, desperate demeanour (reminiscent of Stath, but also other classic cringeworthy characters such as Alan Partridge and David Brent – my faves!) stands out and brings some British humour to the slick, American murder mystery (even if he does put on an American accent). Throughout the series, he often gets ignored or brushed aside, and is the butt of many jokes, which makes you like him even more (or feel sorry for him at least) – I just wish he was more prominent in the show as he is not one of the main characters!
When determined Detective Danner and her team arrive at the scene, she instructs all of the guests (Xavier’s previous classmates) to stay put and begins looking around, finding clues and interviewing the suspects. The subsequent episodes focus on each characters’ interview. Depending on the suspect, their interviews are presented in different formats and styles, providing a fresh take on a well-known genre – from a fast-paced action movie, a show-stopping musical theme, a dark psychological thriller, an animation, a romantic tale of unrequited love, and even a children’s tv show. Every episode tells the story from a new angle. Whilst you might think, hearing the same story several times may get tedious, the change of episode format/style really adds to the flavour of the show, and makes it stand out as a murder mystery contender – I really enjoyed seeing the story played out from different perspectives and as the series went on, you could see how certain facts changed depending on who was telling them – we have a liar in our midsts!
Detective Danner is quick to pinpoint her hopes on one suspect, but as the testimonies begin, things don’t quite add up and it is clear someone is lying – the question is who? It is quickly apparent that Xavier wasn’t as popular and well-loved as he first appeared and deliberate inconsistencies with classmates’ stories litter the episodes, with possible motives coming to the fore, allowing the eagle-eyed viewer to hone in on their prime suspect.
The murder mystery itself is complicated enough to keep you guessing, but not too convoluted to be off-putting. Detective Danner’s big reveal at the end brings all of the characters into one room, again following the traditional whodunnit format, and contains flashbacks to help us piece together the turn of events – you end up kicking yourself at the end about bits you didn’t spot. Whilst the series takes a while to get going, I really enjoyed the premise and the fresh take on this traditional genre.
If you have an Apple TV+ subscription, The Afterparty is worth checking out – find out more on the Apple TV website.
Press photo stills from Afterparty, used with permission from Apple TV+