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Top 10 Thought Provoking Life After Death Movies


Movies that capture life after death in the most magical way! WatchMojo presents the top 10 movies that will have your imagination running with questions about what happens after we die. Do we have a soul? Is there a heaven? The Lovely Bones, Field of Dreams, and the Sixth Sense look to provide answers.

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We all die someday… but what happens after that? Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down the Top 10 Movies That Will Make You Rethink The Afterlife.

For this list, we’re looking at films that provide distinct onscreen representations of the afterlife, and force you to consider your own expectations regarding life after death. We’ll try to avoid spoilers as much as possible, but if a certain plot point is crucial, fair warning... those beans are gonna get spilled.


#10: “Defending Your Life” (1991)


Heaven and Hell make for a tidy little dichotomy, but purgatory tends to be a gray area in religion… and films treats it much the same. In the mind of writer, director and lead actor Albert Brooks, purgatory is a city-sized waiting room, aptly named “Judgment City,” where the recently deceased stand trial. It’s less about morality, and more about overcoming fear. If you overcame your fears, you can move on to the next plane of existence. If not… Please try again. While the judges deliberate, however, there are plenty of fantastic services at your disposal, including great restaurants and comedy clubs. We’re not sure what heaven looks like in Albert Brooks’ mind, but we’d settle with spending eternity in his version of purgatory.


#9: “Ghost Town” (2008)


What if we told you that you have to spend your life being haunted by the ghost of Greg Kinnear? Yeah… that’s what we thought. Following a near-death experience, Bertram Pincus develops the unpleasant ability to see ghosts, all of whom seem to want his help in resolving their unfinished earthly business. Think “Ghost Whisperer,” but sadly lacking Jennifer Love Hewitt. While the initial premise of the film may feel a bit played out, the plot takes the idea of ghosts, and the reason behind their continued presence on earth, in a remarkably original direction. Ghosts don’t stick around to get closure. They stick around until they can give closure to their loved ones.



#8: “Flatliners” (1990)



How far would you go to answer the question of what lies beyond? Morbid curiosity is what compels us to slow down and stare when we see a car crash. It’s the reason public executions used to be so well attended. But as the tagline of “Flatliners” warns, “some lines shouldn’t be crossed,” a lesson the medical students in the film learn the hard way. They begin intentionally stopping their hearts in a controlled environment, in order to experience death temporarily before being brought back via defibrillator. What they learn is that in death we confront our greatest sins. And in cheating death, you bring them back with you to the land of the living until you resolve them.


#7: “Beetlejuice” (1988)


Unless you buy into Tim Burton's macabre version of the world, you're probably hoping his vision for the afterlife is an inaccurate one. His cinematic stylings use the notion of life after death as being a bureaucratic nightmare. And it makes sense, we have enough trouble keeping things running smoothly for the living... Imagine trying to coordinate everyone who’d ever lived. “Beetlejuice” actually makes afterlife as a ghost look like a lot of fun. No one likes seeing new owners move into their old home, and terrifying them would be an absolute pleasure. But that desolate desert wasteland, populated by massive claymation sandworms, is enough to keep a body clinging to life as long as humanly possible.

#6: “The Lovely Bones” (2009)


If there’s one thing that Peter Jackson knows his way around, it’s special effects. He’s also clearly got a fascination with the undead and the afterlife, an idea he explored in his 1996 horror comedy, “The Frighteners.” But in his 2009 film adaptation of a bestselling novel, Peter Jackson takes us into the “In-Between,” an otherworldly transitional space between heaven and earth, where Susie Salmon, played by the talented Saoirse Ronan, comes to terms with her fate. The “In-Between” is stunning to say the least - a best case scenario psychedelic trip where one can make peace with their past life.

#5: “What Dreams May Come” (1998)


Having died in a car crash, Chris Nielsen’s spirit remains, wanting to comfort his wife. He soon realizes, however, that any attempt to interact with her will only cause her emotional distress. Moving on, he finds the afterlife to be a subjective place, susceptible to the influence of his imagination. In this version of the afterlife, heaven is relative to the individual - an idea beautifully represented in the film. His peaceful existence is interrupted by the suicide of his wife, however, who rather than joining him in heaven, is sent to hell. Choosing his wife over paradise, he journeys to hell to save her, a place as individually tailored to the dead as its heavenly counterpart.


#4: “It’s a Wonderful Life” (1946)

This film actually performed poorly at the box office at the time of its release. Thankfully, it has since become one of the most respected pictures of all time, achieving a second life. “It’s a Wonderful Life” asks the audience to reflect on one crucial existential question - What mark would you leave on the world if you died today? When George attempts to take his own life, his guardian angel, Clarence, intervenes and shows him what his town would’ve looked like without him. Recognizing the true value of his life, it doesn’t take long for George to change his tune and beg Clarence to return him to his reality.



#3: “Ghost” (1990)


Vampires have long monopolized the sexy undead market, but Patrick Swayze scored a major win for sexy ghosts with this performance. “Ghost” definitely provided food for thought regarding the concept of the afterlife, though most may know this movie for that pottery scene… for better or for worse. Amidst a sea of unremarkable ghost-related films, this 1990 romantic fantasy hit the mark, resonating with viewers. Sam Wheat is a ghost with a purpose, the ability to interact with physical objects, and the willpower to transcend death to protect someone he loves. The film shows that while death may be the end of life, your time on earth doesn’t have to end until you’re good and ready.


#2: “Field of Dreams” (1989)


Talk about an American classic. This film is perfectly positioned at the cross-section of baseball culture, small town values and having faith in your dreams. The continued mysterious whisper of “if you build it, he will come” motivates Ray Kinsella to create his baseball diamond for deceased professional baseball players to have a game, and for local fans to watch them play. “Field of Dreams” is as much about uncovering the emotional needs of the living as those of the dead, and getting the chance to gain some closure. The movie shows that it is never too late to achieve your life goals, or reconcile with loved ones, even after death.


Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.


· “Meet Joe Black” (1998)



· “Wristcutters: A Love Story” (2006)



· “Corpse Bride” (2005)



· “Enter the Void” (2009)



· “Jacob’s Ladder” (1990)


#1: “The Sixth Sense” (1999)



Ending with one of the greatest plot twists in film history, “The Sixth Sense” makes you rethink not only the afterlife, but also life itself, and the thin line that separates the two. Bruce Willis plays Malcolm Crowe, a child psychologist trying to help a young boy who sees dead people. It paints a bleak picture of the afterlife for those who died with unfinished business, doomed to walk around this earth, often unaware of their own death. It’s hard to imagine anyone walking out of the theater unshaken by that final revelation that Crowe is a ghost himself. It’ll make you question reality, your sanity, and whether or not you yourself may be a ghost. Are you sure?



Do you agree with our list? What movies have made you rethink the afterlife? For more transcendent top 10s published every day, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.

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