Going In

I was all-in for zombies in 2004 when Shaun and Dawn of the Dead revitalized the genre. Ten years later, zombies are played out and I’m bored with them (the notable exception being Telltale’s Walking Dead games).  But I love a good comedy, and Aubrey Plaza has been hilarious in other films.

It’s exciting when a movie I wanted to see popped up on Amazon that wasn’t already on Netflix — this is exceedingly rare, which often has me questioning the value of Amazon Prime’s streaming service.

Review

I’ll keep this short because, unlike the filmmakers, I respect your time.  This movie got the story, script, and cast wrong. There’s just no recovering from that. The final result is a bland and yawn-inducing experience that I can’t recommend to anyone but obsessive Aubrey Plaza fans.

The story is this:  Zach is a deeply depressed young man dealing badly with the loss of his girlfriend. Then she comes back home, unaware that she is a zombie but not quite right in the head. Her parents try to keep it a secret, but it doesn’t last and he goes back to dating her as she slowly transforms into a rotting brain-dead zombie intent on eating human flesh.

It could have been a decent story, but the characters’ actions often make it hard to buy into the plot. People do crazy things when they are devastated by a loss, which might have explained some of the characters’ motivations if they’d taken the time to let you know them before Beth’s zombification.  One example: as chunks of rotting, stinking flesh began to peel off of my girlfriend’s thighs, I would rethink the physical aspects of our relationship. Also, “zombies like to hang out in attics.”

It felt like the movie was made without strong high-level oversight and vision. The pacing is slow, and the tone repeatedly shifts between light comedy and depression so quickly that whatever level of engagement the viewer had built up is demolished.

Life After Beth has theoretically great casting, but combined with a weak script, none of the performances work together. Aubrey Plaza is actually pretty funny as a dead person transitioning into full-on zombie, but she’s the sole highlight. John C. Reilly and Molly Shannon are completely wasted on a poor writing. And Zach’s older brother weakly aspires (and fails) to act as Chet from Weird Science.

The biggest takeaway for any would-be casting director is this: NEVER cast lead Dane DeHaan (Chronicle, The Place Beyond The Pines, some Spiderman reboot) in anything comedic – he is fantastic at being depressed, angsty, brooding, and tortured. But he’s so good at naturally projecting those emotions that it sucks the life and color right out of a proper comedy.

Conclusion

In a world already saturated beyond capacity with zombie movies and romantic comedies, there’s no room for sub-mediocre flicks like this.  I’d have had a better time watching Shaun of the Dead again, again.

Life After Beth Review
A skippable addition to the zombie genre with very little to recommend itself.
Storytelling3
Craftsmanship4.5
Performances6
Satisfaction3
The Good
  • Aubrey Plaza as a zombie
  • Great concept
  • Not as long as some other movies
The Bad/Ugly
  • Weak story and script
  • Casting choices clash
  • Funny moments are few and far between
4.1Overall Score
Reader Rating: (0 Votes)
0.0

About The Author

Justin

I'm a video game programmer, just like Chev Chelios. I've loved movies all of my life, favor substance over style, and try to have high standards and an open mind.