Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Life After Beth: Movie Review


Life, death, Beth and funny zombies.
Some films blur the lines between good and evil, right and wrong, or friends and lovers. Life After Beth blurs the line between life and death. Even Beth herself explains that there’s alive and then there’s dead, and you can’t be both. If you could be both, things would get pretty bad, and weird. Especially weird. 2014

Directed by: Jeff Baena

Screenplay by: Jeff Baena

Starring: Dane DeHaan, Aubrey Plaza

After Beth’s death, Zach (Dane DeHaan) becomes a very depressed and distraught young man. After all, he was in love with Beth (Aubrey Plaza) and then she died suddenly and he didn’t get to do everything that he wanted to with her. He tries forming a friendship with her parents (John C. Reilly and Molly Shannon), but they kick him out too. But the reason is because Beth has returned home. Not dead, but alive (relatively speaking). Her parents say that she has resurrected and they just want to keep her sheltered from sunlight, other people and the knowledge of her death. Zach thinks of her as a zombie, because she did climb out of her grave.
Life with the undead Beth now becomes a romantic comedy because Zach proceeds to do everything with her that he never did when she was alive. Creepy - yes, and a little too weird to be all that funny. However, that is just the beginning of the movie, and by the half-way mark we have introduced a new living girl for Zach’s affections (hilariously played by Anna Kendrick), and then more strange occurrences and Zach and his gun-toting brother (hilariously played by Matthew Gray Gubler) have to team up to become unlikely heroes.

Life After Beth is undoubtedly a zombie movie. It does involve some original jokes on how life after death might turn out to be like for those that have come back to life but are really still dead. Once the romantic comedy angle is put to the back-burner, it becomes way more comedic and only slightly action-filled. Along similar lines to Warm Bodies (2013), Zombieland (2009) and Shaun of the Dead (2004).

Aubrey Plaza’s Beth is the title character, but Dane DeHaan’s Zach is the lead character. This is his story; his observances of Beth and then his observances of other strange occurrences in town. A lead role only a year after his rise to fame with indie darlings The Place Beyond the Pines and Kill Your Darlings, it was especially nice to see his comedic chops. But remember that Zach is a maladjusted kid, so this is far from a movie to form emotional connections to. With Plaza’s stark eyes, she was an obvious choice for the roll of Beth, but Beth is not exactly human so we have moved farther from her impressive role in About Alex (2014) where she actually got to emote real human emotions, a rarity in her career.

The weird element is more than covered, but the comedy should be a nice divergence for indie zombie fans.
Best Lesser-known of 2014

Similar Titles:

About Alex (2014) - About an ensemble that gives a new generation a film to call their own.

Kill Your Darlings (2013) - The story of Allen Ginsberg during some of his more interesting years.

The Place Beyond the Pines (2012) - A story of trashy criminals and dirty cops evolving into one about fathers and sons and life.