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LIFE AFTER BETH Movie Review

Life After Beth
R....91 min.....Comedy, Horror, Romance
August 15, 2014 (LIMITED / DIRECTV)

life after beth

life after beth
life after beth
WRITER/DIRECTOR: .Jeff Baena
life after beth
Aubrey Plaza, Dane DeHaan, John C. Reilly,
Molly Shannon, Cheryl Hines, Paul Reiser,
Matthew Gray Gubler, Anna Kendrick
life after beth
Grade:. ★★★☆☆

SYNOPSIS: Zach is devastated by the unexpected death of his girlfriend, Beth. But when she miraculously comes back to life, Zach takes full advantage of the opportunity to share and experience all the things he regretted not doing with her before. However, the newly returned Beth isn’t quite how he remembered her and, before long, Zach’s whole world takes a turn for the worse.

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life after beth

When you’re a teenager coping with the death of your first love, their inexplicable return must seem like the greatest thing since sliced bread—even if she’s a little bit off, in behavior and smell. But is one chick’s ascent to an undead after-life really worth derailing the delicate balance of nature?

This is precisely the question that Zach (Dane DeHaan) faces in writer/director Jeff Baena’s debut zom-com Life After Beth. Initially thrilled by Beth’s (Aubrey Plaza) return, Zach soon realizes that her unpredictably violent and aggressively lecherous ways threaten not just his bodily integrity, but the fate of all mankind.

Plot-wise, Life After Beth focuses on the time after Beth’s resurrection, to the exclusion of explaining how her return came about. The film keeps you guessing from start to finish, but leaves a number of questions about its canons unanswered.

Character-wise, Life After Beth offers a unique and amusing take on zombie lore. Its undead are wan, mentally muddled, interactive, quick-tempered, wildly strong, and malodorous creatures with a weird thing for attics, who can be calmed only by smooth jazz—a musical genre that, ironically, appears to repulse most of the film’s humans. Aubrey Plaza’s Beth is a hilariously hormonal monster prone to fits of possessive jealousy, vulgar mockery, and supernaturally strong tantrums, who, despite all that, is not entirely unsympathetic, thanks to Plaza’s talent for subtleties. Beth’s feelings for Zach are as tender as any teen in love, even as flesh-craving madness consumes most of her humanity. Dane DeHaan’s conflicted Zach exhibits genuine despair and wholly relatable panic as he wrestles with his inevitable choice between Beth and the world.

life after beth
John C. Reilly and Molly Shannon

Cheryl Hines, Matthew Gray Gubler, John C. Reilly, Molly Shannon, and Anna Kendrick provide wickedly funny support while delivering some of the film’s wittiest and most wry dialogue. Hines’ shrill and nosy Jewish-mother type maintains her yenta-like ways even in the face of Armageddon—and achieves laugh-out-loud funny maternal creepiness in one of the film’s final shots. Gubler is hilariously self-important and self-righteous as Zach’s older brother Kyle, a neighborhood rent-a-cop who, absent a zombie apocalypse, should absolutely not be trusted with a gun.

Unique and suspenseful without being scary, Life After Beth will entertain zom-com fans and provide an easy-to-watch intro to the modern zombie zeitgeist for genre neophytes.

Life After Beth hits select theaters on Friday, August 15.

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life after beth
RENT LIFE AFTER BETH
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Featured Image, Poster and Additional Image: © 2014 A24 Films

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The Author

Sarah Katz

Sarah Katz

Born-and-bred New Yorker. Lifelong film & TV lover—from chick flicks, rom-coms, rom-droms, rom-drams, and tweentertainment, to Shakespeare, period pieces, James Bond, fairy tales, and mafia movies.