Life After Beth (2014)

trailer-fo-the-zombie-comedy-life-after-beth-with-aubrey-plaza

An enjoyable zom-com without too much of the rom that plays on eccentricity of situation to get the stronger laughs. The idea itself and its execution are done pretty well to be honest and watching the deterioration of the female co-lead is made all the more interesting and better thanks to the physical and believable make-up non CGI zombie appearance. 

This American comedy directed and written by Jeff Baena sees Zach (Dane DeHaan) at a loss after hearing his girlfriend Beth (Aubrey Plaza) died on an ill-fated hike. He gets closer with her family in the mourning process but soon Beth’s father, Maury (John C. Reilly) shuts him out and Zach thinks Beth is back and alive. It becomes apparent though that there’s weirder things going on and once he reunites with his flame she isn’t the woman she once was. 

I really do like the idea of this in general, perhaps it fails on occasion in being drawn out into feature length format where some of the jokes fall flat because they’ve been done already. Though the thought of it in terms of something a little bit new and different makes it enough to keep you engaged. There’s mild humour on the most part but every now and again there’s a burst of something altogether daft or funny. The near end with Beth is kooky and so surreal in seeing this deranged girl and an oven, I won’t say how that plays into it but the imagery alone is just downright stupid it makes you laugh. 

The main positive stems from the zombiefication (not a word but I’ll use it) of Beth. The way she goes through stages makes it more horrible in a sense and with some of the increasing dread piled on top with Zach’s family getting their own visitors you feel that these zombies are a threat even in their attic obsessed muddy manner. Beth looks the part and Aubrey Plaza stands out as the central star here even if the main character is probably Dane’s Zach. By the time she’s doolally and reciting ‘together forever’ you utterly buy into her state. The make-up of course helps and really goes a long way to turn her into this grimy disgusting creature. The latter stage of her zombie evolution is nearly scary if it wasn’t so amusing to see her and Zach casually strolling along together, another example of comedy in situation of turning something with the potential of doom into lighthearted fare, even if I guess there is some case of doom arriving at the end of the hike yet even that is damned hilarious.

You can tell it’s filmed with a smaller budget but they get around the zombie scale of disaster by honing on Zach and how he and the people close to him deal with the return of the dead. There’s enough of little burning fires or off screen sounds of shouting and choppers to gauge there is devastation landing all around the place. It does fail to be as smart, witty and funny as ‘Zombieland’, perhaps an unfair parallel but they’re in the same genre so it’s to be expected. The inclusion of Anna Kendrick doesn’t elevate the material much either as she only serves as a weak female character to clearly be there as the sunrise to Zach’s bleak day. The only real greatness is in seeing the surreal nightmare like dream of it all unfolding and in that you get some laughs. As I previously mentioned the comedy does seem to recycle and the more serious aspects get drowned by kookiness which itself loses appeal by the end. 

A great idea maybe stretched out too much but one that leaves Plaza to chew up the scenery and comedy in her zom-like gaze. It’s strange and different enough to films out there that it’ll easily leave you entertained.

6/10

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