"Life After Beth has some interesting points to make and a number of funny moments"
After his girlfriend Beth (Aubrey Plaza) dies from a snakebite during a hike, angsty teen Zach (Dane DeHann) is devastated. After seeking solace in her parents, he starts to believe that maybe Beth isn’t so dearly departed after all.
Aubrey Plaza seems like the sort of actress who should be called an ‘indie darling’, but other than Safety Not Guaranteed she hasn’t made as big of an impact on the film industry as she’s done with TV. Pans don’t come much deader, so she’s a perfect choice for Zach’s zombie girlfriend. The term ‘zombie’ gets bandied about quite liberally here, but true horror aficionados may take umbrage with it, because most zombies don’t tend to talk, blend into normality, or make wise cracks.
It’s clear the pitch for this hinges on Plaza’s performance but because of the nature of undeadness -- mood swings, selective memory, a sharp descent into madness, as well as a love of jazz -- we don’t get as much sass from her as we would perhaps like. Zach soon realises the amazing second chance he’s been given and decides to do all the things he squandered or took for granted the first time around.
However, the naive teen soon notices that while bereavement is messy, depressing and extremely difficult; having a relationship with unresolved issues is better than the alternative, which is to have your girlfriend try to eat your face.
Life After Beth is billed as a black comedy, but it’s moreso an interesting idea on paper that would’ve been great for a short sketch. As a movie, it therefore falls short. DeHann plays the bereaved boyfriend well, but it’s the small interactions with some of the lesser characters that deals out the few and far between humour in this indie zomromcom. Noah (Paul Reiser), the brother of Zach, brings the most laughs with his deadpan delivery and overtly authoritarian reaction when the zombie hoards being to rise.
Overall, Life After Beth has its flaws, especially when the crisis starts affecting the town, whereby the basic premise of the film gets lost in the fever. That said, one of the funniest parts is a hike Zach and Beth embark on. Beth, now in full zombie mode, retains some of her personality by groaning, “Pretty,” and “Smells like lavender,” to her disheartened, bemused boyfriend.
Funny zombie films are rare to come by since Shaun of the Dead. Thereafter, we witnessed a slew of thrown-together ideas that (somehow) producers believed were improved with a zombie premise.
Life After Beth has some interesting points to make and a number of funny moments, but at the end of the day, even with a fresh take on the concept, it’s not very memorable and I felt a little sleepy by the end.