‘The Afterparty’ opens with the death of mega-celebrity Xavier (Dave Franco) during a high school reunion party at his mansion. The party’s host is discovered having fallen to his death from a balcony, and Detective Danner (Tiffany Haddish) pounces on the case, hoping to solve it before the actual detective assigned to the case arrives the following morning.
The mystery deepens as the collection of zany party guests (who are also former classmates) turn out to have wildly differing recollections of the events of the evening. Through musical numbers and film noir sequences, the characters narrate their accounts. Everyone seems to have a motive to cause their celebrity host harm, but who could have done it? Let’s see what the clues tell us, and maybe we can figure out who killed Xavier. SPOILERS AHEAD.
Who Killed Xavier?
The events of ‘The Afterparty’ center around one fateful evening, where a group meets up for their high school reunion. The titular afterparty is hosted by Xavier, who began his road to stardom as a musician and is now also an actor and “humanitarian.” The mega-celebrity is the star of the evening but continues to rub many of his former classmates the wrong way by being pompous. Right off the bat, he annoys Aniq by swooping in and taking up all of Zoe’s attention, with whom Aniq hopes to spark a romance. Brett, who is possessive about his ex-wife Zoe, also sees Xavier with her and threatens violence against him.
Other suspects near the top of the list include Chelsea, whose hip flask is found near Xavier’s dead body. She is also suspected of having written the threatening note that Aniq finds in the bathroom, though it has not been proven yet. Combined with her shifty behavior, Chelsea looks like a very plausible candidate. There are also other characters whose stories remain to be explored, so for now, the blame for Xavier’s murder cannot be firmly pinned on a specific person.
However, it is worth looking a little closer at Detective Danner, who is suspiciously keen to handle the murder case and solve it before the rightful detective assigned to the crime arrives on the scene. Though her motives can only be speculated upon, it is not difficult to imagine a (slightly) sleazy celebrity like Xavier and an ambitious detective having a falling out. If Danner killed Xavier, investigating the case would be the perfect alibi (one that her fidgety subordinate Detective Culp would back up as well).
How Did Xavier Die?
The most apparent way Xavier could have died — which is also considered the most likely cause of death — is that someone pushed him off the balcony. This puts the suspicion on Aniq and Brett, who could have both pushed the celebrity off and had reasons to do it. Next, there is the possibility that Xavier was poisoned and flung onto the rocks below only after he was dead. This would shift the blame toward Chelsea, who is always seen carrying a hip flask with a big red “X” on it.
There is also the possibility that Xavier is not killed, but dies by accident. Once again, the potent drink in Chelsea’s hip flask could be the catalyst that caused the celebrity’s death. Xavier is seen with Chelsea moments before his death, and he could have very well drunk from the potent drink and fallen off his balcony in a stupor.
Finally, it is worth looking at the details we are given about the crime’s setting — Xavier’s house — and whether any aspect of the property (apart from the murderous cliff it stands on) could have played a part in its owner’s death. Detective Danner conducts her interviews in Xavier’s expensively equipped recording studio, which also happens to have a soundproof booth. The frequency with which this room is seen could hint at it having relevance, and Xavier could have been killed in the soundproof room. Since the detective uses the studio as her workspace, it would also be the last place she would look for clues.