A hike alone in the woods ends tragically for Beth Slocum with a fatal snake bite. Her death leaves her parents and boyfriend Zach reeling. After the funeral, Zach tries to make friends with Mr. and Mrs. Slocum, but even they reject him, and he's determined to figure out why. Then he sees Beth. Her parents are trying to keep her resurrection a secret, but zombie Beth provides Zach with the opportunity to do everything with her that he didn't get to do while she was still alive. But with Beth's increasingly erratic behavior and even more strange occurrences around town, life with the undead Beth proves to be particularly complicated for her still-living loved ones.
Directed by: Jeff Baena
. Starring: Aubrey Plaza
, Dane DeHaan
, John C. Reilly
, Molly Shannon
, Cheryl Hines
, Paul Reiser
, Matthew Gray Gubler
, Anna Kendrick
, Eva La Dare
, Thomas McDonell
, Alia Shawkat
, Allan McLeod
, Paul Weitz
. Music by: Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
Life After Beth is a very, unusual, clever horror romantic comedy, full of wit and a lot of genuine humor. Life After Beth is also a movie with some disturbing scenes, but not enough to change my opinion that this is a genuinely underrated gem. I definitely think this movie deserves more attention than it's gotten.
Life After Beth tells the story of Zach Orfman (played by Dane DeHaan), whose girlfriend, Beth Slocum (played by Audrey Plaza), died after a hike that led her to a fatal snake bite. This leads Zach and Beth's parents to be naturally distraught. Zach tries to make friends with Beth's parents (played John C. Reilly and Molly Shannon), but finds, they are now rejecting him for some unusual reason, and are not even answering their own door when he knocks. When Zach sees Beth in the window, while looking at their house, which seems strange to him, he suddenly becomes obsessed with getting into the Slocum's residents. He manages to sneak in and learns that Beth has somehow been resurrected from the dead. At first Zach is absolutely ecstatic, but Beth's behavior suddenly becomes erratic, and it soon becomes clear to Zach that his girlfriend, is in fact a zombie, which makes Zach's relationship with Beth all the more complicated.
Coming into Life After Beth I had no real expectations. I had seen the trailer for Life After Beth and thought it looked really ridiculous, but still, it was an interesting idea, and perhaps they could probably get some comedy out of this plot. However, after having actually seen the film, I can safely say that this movie more than met my expectations. In fact, I would say that Life After Beth is one of 2014's most underrated and best comedies I've seen to date.
Much of what makes this film work is the "black" humor. Like any good horror comedy, death is played up for laughs, and while some of the scenes, left me scratching my head, such as the one when Zach gets home and his brother Kyle tries to shoot him with a gun, having assumed he's become a zombie, as it is somewhat confusingly directed.
What I think really think helps the film is the acting. As the title character Aubrey Plaza, brings her usual "stupid girl" character to the role of Beth and plays it up here enough, that it becomes quite hilarious. In particular, I was impressed by her during the breakdown scene where she causes a fire to happen near a beach. Her attitude works throughout the film as her character becomes more and more zombie-like, and even starts craving flesh. Even if you haven't seen the trailer for the film, the movie gives you hints that Beth is a zombie, such as a scene where Beth returns and they do a close-up on her eyes, showing that they have started to become red. Dane DeHaan's performance is quite good. Having seen him in both Chronicle and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (where he played Harry Osborne), he comes off as a smug and unlikely bastard. Here his character is supposed to be a bit of an obsessor and a not so terribly bright fella. When his character sees Beth and he starts obsessing and acting crazy, but I genuinely thought that he realistically portrayed a person who had "gone to the dogs", because he didn't know if he could trust Beth's parents anymore. There's even a scene where he gets knocked unconscious and we see things from his perceptive, as he falls down and everything goes dark. As Beth's parents, John C. Reilly and Molly Shannon play their roles quite well. C. Reilly, in particular, is as an overprotecting father, who hides a dark secret that is revealed much later. Of the rest of the cast, I will note that I liked Matthew Gray Gubler as Zach's older brother Kyle, who goes from being hateful of his brother, to appreciating him as the zombie invasion starts to happen. Cheryl Hines and Paul Reiser play Zach and Kyle's parents, and Anna Kendrick has a small role as an old childhood friend of Zach's who returns.
The success of Life After Beth has to do with the film's genuinely crazy and silly tone. Much like another recent horror comedy Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil, Life After Beth works because it plays with the typical tropes of a zombie, and uses it for dark laughs. Not expecting much, I found that Life After Beth was definitely entertaining.
Review by comicman117 from the Internet Movie Database.