Directed by: Jeff Baena
I like zombie films, and a part of me will always love films that feature bumbling over-zealous Security Guards (after my five years spent in the industry); so in a way ‘Life After Beth’ was already on to a winner since it ticks those two boxes.
‘Life After Beth’ a rom-zom-com, to steal a phrase used in the promotion push for ‘Shaun of the Dead; featuring the mostly nearly always charming Aubrey Plaza and the solid acting chops of Dane DeHaan, who usually steals some sunshine from even the cloudiest of directed movies (***cough ‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2’ cough cough ‘Metallica Through the Never’***).
Plaza plays Beth Slocum, who is fatally bitten by a snake when out hiking. The early part of the movie centres upon Zach (Dehaan) who is grieving for Beth, who was his girlfriend. He spends a fair amount of time hanging around with Beth’s parents after the funeral. Then suddenly he is unable to contact them. The Slocum’s ignore his phone calls and don’t answer the door. Zach calls round one evening, and snoops about outside the Slocum residence. At the thirteen minute mark of the movie he sees Beth. She’s ‘alive’!
There’s been a plethora of zombie comedies, lord knows we’ve covered several of them on the site, what helps ‘Life After Beth’ stand out is that it perfectly captures this little indie viewpoint of life in the suburbs. Everything is sterile and safe for the characters, their lives are dulled so much that even a zombie outbreak struggles to induce hysteria. One by one more dead people begin returning, and hardly anybody raises an eyebrow. Like Zach’s Mum, half of the population are medicated and drowsily sleepwalking through their days.
The critical response to ‘Life After Beth’ has been lukewarm, and though Plaza and DeHaan deliver alongside a strong supporting cast, the second half of the movie curdles into a bloody average predictable mess. It reminds me a lot of how I felt about ‘Zombieland’ after the Bill Murray scene. As a viewer I’m hooked, laughing along, and then suddenly it hits me. Oh, I don’t think the director knows how to end this. I predict it’s going to end like this. Shit, I’m right, it has ended like this. When I can see the end a mile out, it’s a bad thing. I hate that. ‘life After Beth’ has a good premises and is full of good acting performances but it fails to deliver a satisfying finish.
‘Life After Beth’ is one of those movies where the director will probably look back and think – I could’ve done better on that one.