A young man’s recently deceased girlfriend mysteriously returns from the dead, but he slowly realises she is not the way he remembered her. As the town is slowly taken oven by a zombie apocalypse he is given the opportunity to do the things with her that he never got to do when she was alive.
Ever since Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg revived the zombie sub genre back in 2004 with their zom-rom-com Shaun of the Dead, Zombies have risen from the dead and continue to roam around in the spotlight. Just like with Shaun there are a collection of Zombie films that perfectly balance the fine line between comedy and horror and Jeff Baena’s LIFE AFTER BETH is a prime example but it also has the potential to surpass them all.
A festival hit before its wide cinema release here in the UK last October, Life After Beth has continued to wow audiences and for good reason. As a film it is very charming and serves as a hilarious take on the Zombie sub genre. Baena takes the the rules set by George A Romero’s dead trilogy and offers an interesting twist by focusing on the relationship between two people whilst the world around them is going to pot.
In this approach and by dealing with the zombie apocalypse as a catalyst rather than a means of focus, Baena has crafted a heartwarming tale about two star crossed lovers from the prospective of Dane DeHaan’s character Zack. We see his character deal with grief and watch his character grow as he takes a second chance to reconnect with the love of his life Beth who is played by Aubrey Plaza (TV’s Parks and Recreation). As director Baena masterfully injects moments of strong horror but handles these moments so beautifully that they never once distract from the plot or seem out of place.
As for the cast it’s truly a delight to say that everyone is equally as fantastic. Baena’s witty and heartfelt script is so fresh and does an incredible job to fully develop and realise each character individually. It’s hardly surprising that there’s not one single person that lets the side down, each cast member is given their moment to shine and are collectively wonderful.
Dane DeHaan does a fantastic job to carry the film. His performance shows his acting ability and his range of emotions really help sell the credibility of the film. He has a fantastic on-screen connection with Aubrey Plaza who is essentially playing the same role as she does in Parks and Recreation but that’s okay as her style of comedy fits the role perfectly. I also want to pay honorable mention to John C. Reilly and Molly Shannon whose performances as Beth’s devoted parents are both lovely and genuinely hilarious.
It goes without saying just how much I was impressed by Life After Beth. It is incredibly versatile. It works fantastic as a horror film, it works incredibly well as a comedy and as a love story. Jeff Baena has done an outstanding job with this film and he should be proud of his accomplishment especially considering the fact that this is his feature debut. I can’t wait to see more from him.
So regardless of which genre your partial to I strongly suggest you check it out as I cannot recommend this film enough… so go buy it already!
Words by Jon Dickinson