Sometimes fire and brimstone might not be the worst things greeting you in the Afterlife. Here's our list of fictional Purgatories and Heavens — that would actually be worse than being plunged into Hellfire for all eternity.
12. The Lovely Bones
While gorgeous, the vision of Heaven in this movie (and book) is total bunk. Main character Susie Salmon is raped and murdered as a very young girl. After being spirited away to her own Heaven, she then spends the rest of her days watching her family mourn her horrible fate. And sometimes, she hangs out with other victims of her murderer. Thus all victims' purgatory gets dictated by the actions of the person who put them there — even kids. Awful.
So you're dead but not ready to ascend, this means you have to find someone who speaks "ghost." Good luck with that.
10. Field of Dreams
Almost everything about this movie revolves around faith. If you build it, they will come, and then others will come, and you won't feel like a terrible father for bulldozing your child's tuition money and turning it into a baseball field. Okay, fine. If God can send an invisible baseball team of famous ghosts to Iowa because one man didn't get to play catch with his dead father, then why can't God return the same favor to all His other believers? The hotdog scene is cruel and unusual.
It's almost as if God picked up this Archie character just to mess with him. Remember how you always wanted to bat with the New York Giants but never got the chance? Well here's that second chance, baby Archie! Hooray — oh wait, there's a little girl choking on a hot dog? Well you gotta go save her, because you're a doctor and this is 1989, and no one knows the Heimlich maneuver. Now get the fuck out of my Baseball Heaven.
While making the obvious choice to save a child's life, Archie is then punished by his goodness. Totally fair — this is Heaven, after all. Archie is transformed to the aged Doc, and apparently this means his time with the baseball players is over. But wait, just to really kick him when he's down, Doc is forced to do the walk of shame past his dead baseball heroes, back through the cornfield. Dick move, God.
S9. All Dogs go to Heaven
Forcing dogs to wear t-shirts in the afterlife.
8. Defending Your Life
After you die, you go to a little suburban white mall-town, where you're forced to wear tunics. There, you will be given an angel lawyer who will "defend" your life. Horrible memories from your past will play on a big screen, as will good memories. There two angels will battle it out and decide whether or not you should be allowed into Heaven or sent back to Earth for another shot at becoming whatever they think is good. While not a bad place (the food is good and there is plenty of it) the people in Purgatory are all kind of jerks. Every time Albert Brooks says he's got 9 days to defend his life (which is apparently a lot, and therefore indicative of him being a crap human) the workers of this world wince and say "oooh." What a pack of pretentious asshats.
Plus, the memories and experiences the angel lawyers pull out for Brooks are garbage. So what if Meryl Streep's character saved a bunch of kittens from a fire in her past, does that makes her a good person? It's very "actions over attitude." Not everyone is presented with a basket of kittens that need saving. Some of us just work and die and try to be nice people. Which apparently isn't Heaven-worthy.
7. Heart And Souls
After a clerical error in Heaven, four souls spend about 30 years following around some kid whom their spirits are conjoined to, not knowing that they should be using this kid to tie up any loose ends so they can go to heaven. That's 30 years following around one human... 30 years. Where do you go when he's in the bathroom with a sock? How do you entertain yourself? Forget the fact that you've horribly scarred some poor kid for the rest of his life — but how the hell is heaven making ERRORS? That being said, the lifetime of secret backup dancers would be awesome.
S6. What Dreams May Come
It's no secret, we really, really, really hate the astoundingly beautiful What Dreams May Come. Why? That's simple: the terrible isolationist Heaven, the nasty trickery that deceased loved ones play upon new souls — and last (but not least) what about the shit attitude everyone has there? People are lining up to tell Robin Williams what he can and can't do, and how his love isn't enough. And this is Heaven? Instead of happiness, What Dreams May Come portrays a place where children are forced to relive their Daddy Issues, in the form of a flight attendant he once hit on. Each little world seems like the visual unspooling of every soul's never-experienced therapy session. No thanks.
Image from another fantastic review of What Dreams May Come over at Videogum.
5. Made In Heaven
Man falls in love with a "new soul" in Heaven. They have sex, and somehow become already married by Heaven's rules. But then she's called to Earth to be somebody's baby because THOSE ARE THE RULES. Cue a stream of arbitrary rule-spewing angels, who show up to get into the main characters' way. Case in point: If you want to go back to find the love of your life, you will retain your Heaven memories (which as we learned in Buffy isn't a good thing) and if you don't find your love by 30, you never will. Because God Said So.
Yes, Tim Burton is totally awesome and we all love the worlds that he creates... except maybe the Afterlife that is set up in the world of Beetlejuice. When you die, you are stuck in your own personal little Hell forever, you can not leave, or sandworms. Also, however you die, that is how you will spend your eternity as. Get flattened by a car, you'll spend your afterlife as a pancake man. Get sawn in half, you have to carry around your other half.
3. After Life
Hirokazu Koreeda's film is absolutely lovely, but the afterlife in After Life is brutal. Which was intended to be difficult. In this movie, after you die, souls get one week in a place that seems super similar to Earth. During that week they have to choose one memory from their past life to keep. Just one. One memory... impossible!
2. White Noise
There is no heaven, there is no hell. Just an eternity trapped inside of white noise. A thing that doesn't really even exist anymore. Enjoy spending forever in an old VCR.
1. The Kid With the Broken Halo
A terrible, dickish Angel who can't concentrate on his angel classes is assigned to go to Earth and fix this guy's life, thus proving his merit as an angel. Because fuck humans.