A teenager's life is flipped upside down when his recently
deceased girlfriend suddenly shows up alive and well.
Life After Beth (2014)
Written and Directed by Jeff Baena
Starring Aubrey Plaza, Dane DeHaan, John C. Reilly, Molly Shannon, Cheryl Hines, Paul Reiser, Matthew Gray Gubler, Anna Kendrick
Life After Beth is a bonkers movie that features a stellar cast, all of whom perform admirably but never quite take this concept as far as it should go. I think what holds this film back is how safe they actually play it. If you're gonna do a zombie movie like this, go for broke. Get weird with it. Get insanely gory with it. While I understand that Beth and Zach's relationship was the cornerstone of the movie, I think that the overarching zombie plague story could've been done better and in turn, enriched the rest of the movie.
Dane DeHaan plays Zach, a teenager in mourning for his girlfriend Beth (Plaza), who has tragically died. He becomes close with Beth's parents Maury (Reilly) and Geenie (Shannon), but everything changes when Beth shows up alive and well. She has no memory of dying and is exactly the way she was, at first. Slowly, she becomes more aggressive, psychotic, and hungry for human flesh. At the corners of the story, other zombies are showing up and attacking the living. In classic zombie movie fashion, we're never told how this happened, though it's implied that it may be a Haitian voodoo curse. Aubrey Plaza and Dane DeHaan are the strongest performers, and while their chemistry was strong, I wish we'd gotten to see more zombie action. Zombie movies are a gorehound's bread and butter, so much so that when a zombie movie doesn't really go for it, there's disappointment.
I enjoyed Life After Beth for the most part, but I don't think it fully embraced the concept. A teenager still in love with his zombie girlfriend is a concept with endless potential, especially when you combine it with the dark comedic tone the film maintains. The final product is good, but not as good as it could've been, and I get why most critics disliked it.