L is for Life After Beth

“I’m a zombie…zombies eat guys!”

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Yes, it’s another movie about zombies. When Life After Beth initially hit theatres the over-saturation of movies about the ‘undead’ had spilled over so much that it didn’t do it any favours at the box office. Despite trying to do something slightly different Life After Beth never really satisfies.

After Beth (Aubrey Plaza) is tragically killed from a snakebite during a hiking trip, her boyfriend Zach (Dane DeHaan) is left feeling understandably alone, with nothing else to live for. Struggling to come to terms with his new life Zach’s relationship with Beth’s parents (John C. Reilly, Molly Shannon) becomes stronger than ever, even when his own parents and his trigger-happy brother aren’t quite as caring. But that all changes when Beth miraculously turns up one evening, alive and as good as new. However Zach soon realises that this Beth isn’t quite the same.

Beth is still dead.

Beth is a zombie.

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It sounds like quite a funny premise doesn’t it? And it is, in the beginning at least. But as the film progresses it becomes extremely apparent that it struggles to hold the viewers attention. It just sorta plods along to it’s end. It’s a comedy for sure but it’s not slapstick at all like say Shaun of the Dead or Zombieland. I acknowledge it’s attempt to try to be something different, to try to step away from the zomcom sub genre and be it’s own thing. It’s definitely not formulaic, but there simply aren’t enough laughs or enough anything for this to stand out from the crowd.

The cast definitely put in a valiant effort to propel the movie to another level and while I did lose interest in the plot towards the third act, the ensemble kept me watching especially John C. Reilly, who has excelled in recent years in this type of low-key comedy role. Most of the comedy comes from his vigorous bid to pretend that Beth didn’t die and that everything is just as how it was before she was bitten by the venomous snake. You see Beth doesn’t actually know she’s a zombie so she’s prancing around like nothing happened, only she’s doing it with a little more aggression and hunger and feverish rage.

DeHaan is his typical self. A shy, socially awkward performance perfectly suited to someone recently struck by the heavy burden of grief and feeling lost in the big world without someone close to comfort him. He’s good, very good and feels more at home here than blockbusters like Amazing Spiderman 2. I’m a fan of Aubrey Plaza. I think she’s a standout in Parks & Recreation, which is a toughy considering that cast. She does her best here and gives an adequate showing of her range as an actor but I really struggled to distinguish her from her previous roles. Maybe that’s a fault at my end. As previously stated the rest of the cast are great. Shout out to Anna Kendrick who steals the movie with her small but pivotal role. She was an absolute joy.

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There’s definitely something here. So much potential for something great. If this were a short then I’m sure it would’ve been great. I get the feeling that writer/director Jeff Baena may have came up with the clever title first then tried to work a plot around that rather than the other way around. Worth watching for sure but slightly disappointing in the end.

6/10

Gavin Logan – Follow me on Twitter

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