Monday, August 25, 2014

[Review] Life After Beth

Dane DeHaan and Aubrey Plaza star in Life After Beth, another twist on the zombie comedy. It's a mix of Shaun of the Dead and Warm Bodies, but heavier on the quirky rom-com side, and lighter on the violence and guts.

Zach (played by the perfectly cast DeHann) is mourning the passing of his girlfriend, Beth (played by the perfectly cast Plaza). The film's loopy tone is established immediately, as the film pokes at some funeral tropes. "The napkins need to be black," Zach mopes. And the goofy secondary characters fill the space with off-beat dialogue.

The story really kicks in when Zach shockingly finds out that Beth isn't actually dead, but she isn't exactly alive either... It just so happens that she rose from her grave and is gradually morphing into a zombie! It's safe to say that Zach has no idea to handle the situation, and what ensues is a complicated relationship to say the least.

It's enjoyable with its humorous mix of slapstick, screwball, and straight-up awkwardness. A number of highlight scenes just involve a lot of people yelling at each other. The mildly clever script keeps everything from delving into loathsome cheesiness. Yes, the story is ridiculous, but it's never really dumb, as it works as a metaphor for the breakup process and it's a mildly successful genre hybrid. There are sections where the story begins wander, creating the feeling that this might have worked better as a killer short.

Dane DeHaan's disheveledness is fun to watch as he experiences a rollercoaster of emotions and mindfucks. Aubrey Plaza looks like she's having loads of fun in this role, letting loose some maniacal ferocity and relishing in the typically grotesque zombie make-up, especially during the film's second half. Cheryl Hines, Paul Reiser, Anna Kendrick, John C Reilly, Molly Shannon, and Matthew Gray Gubler lend some amusing supporting roles.

Life After Beth is a rollicking good time while you watch it, but you might kind of move on and forget about it.


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