Fantasia 2014: Life After Beth (2014) Review – A Zom-Com That Defies Conventions



Directed by Jeff Baena Written by Jeff Baena
Starring Anna Kendrick, Dane DeHaan, Aubrey Plaza, Matthew Gray Gubler, John C. Reilly, Molly Shannon

91 mins - Horror/Comedy - Release date: 15 August 2014 (limited)

What does soft jazz, attics, and mud have in common? Zombies like them, at least the zombies in Jeff Baena’s Life After Beth do. If you’re a passionately opinionated zombie zealot, you might want to skip this film, because it turns the zombie mythos on its head. Actually, zombie zealots, see this movie. See what a bit of liberal creativity can do for the zombie genre, how it can refresh it instead of telling the same old story ad nauseam.

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That’s the beauty of a horror/comedy; they can take liberties that otherwise “serious” horror flicks can’t. Not that the so-called serious horror films can’t take liberties, but they have conventions that they usually have to abide by. With a horror/comedy, anything goes because everything is designed for a laugh, even when they break away from conventions.

Life After Beth basically tells the story of the recently deceased Beth (Aubrey Plaza Scott Pilgrim vs. the World), who mysteriously returns from the dead to her parents (John C. Reilly and Molly Shannon). Beth’s boyfriend, Zach Orfman (Dane DeHaanThe Amazing Spider-Man 2, Metallica Through the Never, Devil’s Knot), stumbles upon the fact that Beth’s parents are keeping her “resurrection” secret, and at first he’s befuddled, but quickly warms up to the idea of having his girlfriend back. From there, things get hairy, but it’s a riot.

life after beth

While Life After Beth does shift typical zombie conventions, its greater message is about how difficult it can be to let go of those we’ve lost, whether through death or just in a break up. This is probably most graphically shown in the film when Zach attempt to hump Beth’s scarf, until he’s interrupted by his brother, Kyle (Matthew Gray GublerExcision, Suburban Gothic, How to Be a Serial Killer), who says, “Are you fucking your scarf?” The point, however, is that we will cling to anything to keep us close to those who have left our lives.

life after beth

The Verdict:

Life After Beth is a hilarious zombie romantic comedy, and well worth your time to see. There are moments that the film drags its feet, but the laughs, one-liners, and absurd situations more than make up for those moments. Is it a must-see for horror fans? Absolutely! But it can also be enjoyed by any fan of good movies.

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