Life After Beth – Film Review

Dane DeHaan and Aubrey Plaza go for the jugular with undead laughs in a zombie rom-com

When Zach’s girlfriend Beth comes back from the dead her parents refuse to believe she’s a zombie. Dane DeHaan (The Amazing Spiderman 2) and Aubrey Plaza (Parks and Recreation) star in a genre mashing ‘zom-com’ from writer/director, and Plaza’s husband, Jeff Baena. Baena plays it straight during a teased first act but the tropes of a boy meets girl, girl eats boy comedy owe a lot to Shaun of the Dead and Nicholas Hoult’s turn in Warm Bodies.

Overjoyed at her resurrection following a snake bite, Beth’s Dad Maury (John C. Reilly) keeps her under house arrest. “She died and she’s not dead now. Who cares why?” But she’s soon rolling her eyes and living in the loft, which she’s caked with mud. “You don’t wanna eat me do you?” asks a nervous Zach. “Not with my parents around,” jokes Beth. Like a victim of amnesia she is completely unaware of her plight allowing the absurdist gags to flow from a great physical performance by Plaza whose deadpan delivers.

DeHaan makes us feel for Zach as his miracle turns nightmare when Beth starts developing weeping sores, gets charred by the sun and he discovers the only thing to calm her blood lust is smooth jazz on the radio. The idea of being “together forever” soon becomes a poisoned chalice. “What do you want from me Zach?” protests Beth. “Zombies eat guys!” And their mum’s fingers too.

Jeff Baena’s film goes for the jugular when the undead rise from their graves invading suburbia, proving Zach was right about Beth all along. Slapstick mayhem unfolds with Zach’s gun obsessed brother on the rampage while comedy zombies shuffle the streets. We’ve been here before with Jesse Eisenberg in Zombieland but it’s fun stuff for fans of the genre kick started by George Romero with Night of the Living Dead in 1968.

Plaza’s gory transformation is entertaining and, even when she’s restrained by Zach who straps a kitchen stove to her back to quell her fits of rage, Life After Beth offers moments that are more ‘rom’ than ‘zom’. But clocking in at little more than 80 minutes the film feels slight and you’ll be left wishing this spoof had a little more bite.

Details

Director: Jeff Baena
Release date: 03 Oct, 2014