Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Life After Beth

Zach is devastated. His girlfriend Beth tragically died from a snake bite while hiking by herself. He befriends her grieving parents and they find comfort in hanging out and reminiscing until one day, they won't answer the door. Zach bursts in to find that Beth mysteriously reappeared and her parents are acting crazy. They are convinced it's a miracle and it's nice to have Beth back, so Zach goes with the flow. At first, their relationship is just as he remembered it: perfect and happy. Then, her behavior gets more and more erratic and cruel as her physical appearance also deteriorates. How long can they live with undead Beth and pretend she's normal?

Life After Beth is one film in a growing subgenre: zombie romantic comedy. It's light on horror and heavy on comedy, but still has some zombie carnage near the end when everything goes crazy. The overall concept is delightful. The zombism is a metaphor for a decaying relationship, where the couple stays together even though the relationship just isn't the same and they are only hurting each other by not breaking up. In the film, the relationship seems like roses and rainbows after Beth comes back and Zach is incredibly happy. Then, Beth starts to mentally and physically deteriorate. She becomes cruel and misanthropic in addition for her penchant for eating people. Zach feels obligated to stay with her, but, especially after meeting a charming and very much alive girl, it becomes clear that he's been keeping alive a relationship that will never be the same.

The zombies are flesh-eating, but appear normal until they rot and lose their mental faculties. For some odd reason, they really like smooth jazz and attics. It's never really explained and put in to be quirky or cute, but it's simply arbitrary and is used to get a few weak laughs. Aubrey Plaza was funny as Beth, but the role was very straight-forward and one note without any real nuance. I loved her parents, played by John C. Reilly and Molly Shannon. They insisted her return was a gift from god, proved by the Bible. Their dedication to her was sweet and unwavering, even as she became more and more zombie-like. Anna Kendrick is amazing as usual even in such a small part as the girl who makes Zach realize just how horrible his relationship is.

 Although I like the concept and the acting is pretty good, the execution overall was meh beyond the aforementioned performances. Dane DeHaan isn't the most sympathetic character and seems a bit smarmy and off-putting. I think maybe I haven't forgive him for Amazing Spiderman 2, the only other film I've ever seen him in. The laughs were few and far between and it didn't bring much horror at all. It seemed like long stretches of time would go by without much happening. The ending is predictable. All of the dead returning near the end of the film doesn't seem to mesh with the original concept. I thought it would have been better if the couple rotted together as they struggled to make their relationship work and then got better when they broke up. I would suggest to give it a watch because it was entertaining, but don't set your hopes too high.

My rating: 6/10 fishmuffins

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