Life After Beth

"Excellent"

Life After Beth Review


While zombie rom-coms aren't original (see Shaun of the Dead or Warm Bodies), this take on the genre has such a deadpan tone that it feels refreshingly unpredictable. While the plot sometimes seems like it's going to spin completely out of control, writer-director Jeff Baena (who wrote I Heart Huckabees) holds it together with clever twists and turns and smart, witty dialogue. And the terrific cast helps balance the humour and horror with a hint of emotional depth.

It opens as soulful teenager Zach (Dane DeHaan) is grieving about his recently deceased girlfriend Beth (Aubrey Plaza), who was killed by a snake bite. As Zach and Beth's parents (John C. Reilly and Molly Shannon) help each other get over the shock, they are startled when she arrives back home as if nothing happened. Utterly unaware that she's undead, Beth can't understand why Zach is looking at her strangely, while her parents become super protective, refusing to let her outside for fear that someone will spot a dead girl walking around. Then Zach begins to notice that Beth isn't the only person in town who has come back to life. And when he runs into old friend Erica (Anna Kendrick), Beth's jealousy seems to trigger a full-on zombie invasion.

By focussing on the warped relationships between the characters, the film keeps the audience both involved and entertained. The humour is a mix of bone-dry dialogue and riotously nutty visual gags that escalate as the story progresses. And there are constant wrinkles in the plot, such as how Beth conveniently can't remember breaking up with Zach before she died. Or how Zach's gung-ho brother (a scene stealing Matthew Gray Gubler) reacts to the growing threat of the walking-dead. And by combining real heart with silly comedy and even some genuine scariness, filmmaker Baena manages to make some sharp observations about both love and grief.

This layering of themes gives the cast members a lot to work with, and the film is solidly anchored by the likeable DeHaan and the funny-freaky Plaza. Nothing either actor has done before quite prepares the audience for their effective performances here. And having comedy veterans like Reilly and Shannon, plus Cheryl Hines and Paul Reiser (as Zach's parents), gives the entire film a kick. Despite the silly, meandering plot, the film is a riot of knowing gags about zombie movies combined with an amusingly sweet teen romance. Some of the jokes feel rather corny, while others seem to go off the rails as they develop. But the way Baena and the cast continually add resonant human emotion underneath the undead carnage is relentlessly entertaining.



Life After Beth

Facts and Figures

Genre: Comedy

Run time: 89 mins

In Theaters: Tuesday 15th July 2014

Box Office USA: $57.3k

Budget: $8M

Distributed by: A24 Films

Production compaines: Abbolita Productions, Starstream Entertainment, Destro Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 45%
Fresh: 38 Rotten: 46

IMDB: 5.7 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: Elizabeth Destro, Michael Zakin

Starring: as Beth Slocum, as Zach Orfman, John C. Reilly as Maury Slocum, as Geenie Slocum, as Judy Orfman, as Noah Orfman, as Erica Wexler, as Roz, as Kyle Orfman, Eva La Dare as Pearline

Also starring: ,

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