Life After Beth (2014)

Let me preface this entire review with the fact that I am a complete sucker for romantic zombie movies. Romzomcoms? Whichever. The formula of complete and utter flesh-eating chaos when paired with the matters of the heart just does it for me. Fido, Dead Alive, My Boyfriend’s Back and yes – even Warm Bodies. So when I saw the previews for Life After Beth I was already so down for this movie. After seeing it I have come to realize that it is nothing like I expected it to be and? That is actually not a bad thing. life-after-beth

Boy meets girl. Boy or girl dies or is dead. Love flourishes while flesh rots. It has been packaged and sold in slightly different ways but it is the same plot that has won me over for years. Writer/director Jeff Baena must have recognized this trend and from there decided to shake the genre up a little bit. Life After Beth opens up with the death of Beth. She decides to go hiking and meets her fate due to a rather unfortunate snake bite. Her family and her recently dumped boyfriend Zach accordingly mourn for her. Especially Zach. He takes it pretty hard, so hard he resorts to stalking her family and wearing her scarf to remain close to her. It’s kind of creepy, but nevertheless worthwhile he did because he discovers? Beth isn’t dead.

Okay. She is. Technically she’s undead. For some unknown reason she clawed herself out of the grave and she’s back. But her memory is a little fuzzy. And she likes to spend a lot of time in the attic with mud. But really, what are a few little quirky details when the love of your life returns to the living? So against the will of her parents he takes her out. He laughs with her, walks with her, has sex with her cold corpse and? That is when things start changing more rapidly. It appears excessive exposure to the sun expedites the decaying process. And not only that? As soon as her skin goes – so does her mind. Beth starts having a bit of trouble keeping things together. And that paired with super human strength (didn’t you know all zombies can bench press a buick?) their young love takes a left turn to it’s-time-to-see-other-people-ville. 

Life After Beth’s take on dark comedy just works. Beth’s slow but sure nose dive into zombie madness is uncomfortable to watch and surprisingly frightening. At first you hope she gets it together. Then when she’s starts eating faces? You just want Zach to move the hell on. And don’t think it’s just Beth. Jeff Baena clearly drops little hints that other people have risen too – and eventually? The dead walk the earth. And they all just want to go home and indulge in their weird obsession with attics (a minor plot point that was never really fleshed out and just kind of nonsensically and repeatedly occurs).

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The special effects team of this movie nailed every aspect of what I’d expect to see in the stages of corpse deterioration. And yes, I do have expectations in this area. A freshly dead corpse is far different from one that’s been underground for awhile and recently crawled out. And zombie boobs? Just as creepy as I hope they would be. As far as the cast goes Matthew Gary Gubler, who plays Zach’s gun obsessed security guard with an agenda brother owned his role. As a huge Criminal Minds fan, it was hard to not think of him as Dr. Spencer Reid but he was both convincing and adorable with his let’s-shoot-all-the-things mannerisms. And both John C. Reilly (Maury Slocum) and Molly Shannon (Geenie Slocum) as Beth’s parents were perfect. Weird. Perky. And perfect. As far as the rest of the cast I could have lived or lived without them. Aubrey Plaza as Beth didn’t do a shabby job, she just wasn’t that stellar until she really went bat shit nuts. And Dane DeHaan although adorable just didn’t seem to bring enough depth to Zach as I would hope.

All in all? It’s a decent movie. Not sure if I would rank it on my top romantic zombie film list but it’s definitely worth a watch and certainly has character. Once again kudos to Jeff Baena for shaking up the genre a bit. Looking forward to seeing more films come out under his purview.

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About Meg

Blond, bold and brainy. Already scared aren’tcha? When Meg’s not book learnin’ or arguing the anatomy of zombies – shes probably in the ocean, watching star trek, or forcing everyone around her to endure horror moviethons. Bruce Campbell? Her personal demi-God. Costuming, comics, charity work, college and a kidlet take up most of her time. But seriously, who needs sleep when you’re training the future generation of nerd? With great power comes great responsibility…..or something.