Movie Review: Life After Beth

@sjdavis1982 reviews Rom-Zom-Com Life After Beth…

Ever since Shaun of the Dead turned the zombie movie on its head, many have tried to replicate its success. Edgar Wright’s hit British “zom-com” managed to brilliantly combine all the horrible bits from the likes of George Romero with a hilarious dose of comedy, which succeeded in showing us that despite the horror’s that come from a zombie invasion, they can be a slow, senseless bunch.

The latest film to try and stake its claim to Shaun’s success is Life After Beth, a delight film that if anything takes its cues from the final scene of that hit film, namely what would it be like to live with a zombie, and what if that zombie was your ex-girlfriend. That’s the strange scenario that presents itself to Zach (Dane DeHaan), when his other half, the titular Beth (Aubrey Plaza) finds her self resurrected after her fatal clash with a poisonous snake. Her parents (John C. Reilly and Molly Shannon) believe that it is an act of God that has resurrected their baby daughter, rather than anything to do with the undead.

Life After BethIt’s certainly not an original concept, but Life After Beth works very well, and its success lies in its carefree nature. Written and directed by debutant Jeff Baena, who co-wrote of David O. Russell’s nutty I Heart Huckabees, certainly retains some of that films more outrageous moments, but while that effort spiraled out of control in places, here he manages to keep the film much more contained, and more importantly very funny. It’s certainly told at a brisk pace, and while it won’t win any prices for originality or indeed in its direction, Baena’s script is the success here, balancing the comedy and some genuine human moments much better than in last year’s Warm Bodies.

What truly raises the film into “must-see” territory is the fantastic cast, who are uniformly strong throughout: DeHaan, a supreme talent when give the right material (The Place Beyond The Pines) is excellent here, exercising some of the ghosts left over from his involvement in the excruciating The Amazing Spider-Man 2; Plaza, with her wide-eyed gaze and monotonous delivery is perfect cast as a zombie, with her excellent comedic timing shining through, and is perhaps her best role yet for her unique talents; and the ever-reliable John C. Reilly, always a joy to watch in both drama and comedy, is superb as Beth’s father, as he slips from calm authority to crazed loon with relish.
While it may look and sound like another pretender to the “zom-com” sub-genre, Life After Beth succeeds thanks to its superb cast and some genuine moments of laugh-out-loud humour. And while some of the beats throughout are nothing new, its snappy script keeps everything ticking over nicely, and produces one of the year’s best comedies.
Follow Scott Davis on Twitter @sjdavis1982
Image courtesy of IMDb.

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