Life After Beth – Review

 

With the modern zombie fad now a decade old, you’d be remiss in thinking that filmmakers would have given up on the relatively tired trend by now. Life After Beth – which nicks the label of “rom-zom-com” rather unironically from the film that started the fad in first place – marks yet another entry into the canon. For the most part however, it manages to raise itself far enough above the standard to provide something new; but falls back on a number of tired tropes in a sort of passive aggressive attempt to undo those it creates.

 

Parks And Recreation’s (if you’re not watching it, you should be) Aubrey Plaza takes the titular role of Beth, a twentyish girl who meets her untimely demise while hiking through the woods. But before her family and loving boyfriend (DeHaan) can fully grieve, Beth is back with no memory of what befell her in those woods; and some strange behaviour soon casts a darker light on her miraculous return.

 

True to form, Plaza is an incredibly enjoyable screen presence. Working almost exclusively in a comedy background, Life After Beth represents a perfect platform on which the young actress can thrive in her long-established comfort-zone. DeHaan meanwhile fares less well. While there’s no doubting the quality of DeHaan’s talents, there’s an inherent disconnect between his distinct style and the tone of the material in general; a tone the supporting cast – which includes the likes of Paul Reiser, John C. Reilly and Molly Shannon – seem infinitely more comfortable with.

 

There’s a tonal shift that hinders proceedings to boot. The first half hour is an interesting, relatable and somewhat darkly comic view of not only the grieving process but the minutia that comes with it as well – a brave inclusion from writer/director Baena. It’s once the story goes full-tilt zombie however that the overall quality rapidly starts to decay, with the satirical Night Of The Living Dead angle clashing instantly with the rather indie-comedy sensibilities embraced to that point. If anything, it indicates the greater potential for Life After Beth as a more traditionally styled and broader comedy – a gender-reversed take on the 1994’s little-seen My Boyfriend’s Back – which would in turn create the catch twenty-two of simply rendering it “yet another zombie comedy”.

 

It’s not without its own quirky charm or appeal, and Aubrey Plaza alone is worth the ticket price; but an uneven tone and an ill-fitting DeHaan ensure Life After Beth never truly makes it’s way back from the dead.

 

 

Catch Van Connor’s reviews in our Movies section and live on Slam Dunk Cinema every Saturday at 12PM on Sheffield Live! 93.2FM or on the podcast via iTunes.

 

In it
Aubrey Plaza, Dane DeHaan, John C. Reilly

Behind it
Jeff Baena




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