Thursday, October 8, 2015

Movie Review: "Life After Beth" (2014)

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Movie"Life After Beth"
Director: Jeff Baena
Year: 2014
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 29 minutes

A young woman named Beth (Aubrey Plaza) is killed when bitten by a snake while out hiking alone. Her boyfriend Zach (Dane DeHaan) is distraught by her death and keeps visiting Beth's parents, Maury (John C. Reily) and Geenie (Molly Shannon), as part of his grieving process. One day, they won't return Zach's phone calls or answer the door. While trying to find out why they aren't talking to him, he sees Beth walking through her house. He first thinks they played a trick on him, but he soon finds out Beth has returned from the grave as a zombie and has no idea she died. She looks normal enough, and Zach and Beth want to continue their relationship, but having a relationship with a zombie isn't easy as she has some weird and sometimes scary tendencies. Things get worse when it turns out Beth's resurrection isn't an isolated incident and all of the dead start to come back to life. 

"Life After Beth" is a horror themed dark comedy about a zombie outbreak. Sounds familiar, right? Though the zombie outbreak is widespread, its primary focus is on a young couple named Zach, played by Dane DeHaan, and Beth, played by Aubrey Plaza. Beth is killed when she is bitten by a snake while off hiking alone. This throws Zach into a bout of deep depression as they had just been in a fight right before she died. He swears that if she was still alive, things would be different, and he convinces himself she was the love of his life. When it turns out Beth is still "alive," Zach thinks her death was some cruel joke, but eventually, like Beth's parents, he has to accept her return as a miracle. Zach and Beth try to continue their relationship as if she had never died, and they even go as far as making their new-found reunion an intimate sexual relationship. As the days pass by, Beth's behavior becomes more and more erratic, and Zach starts to notice other people around town, people he thought were already dead, and begins to wonder if he and Beth should break up. As she falls farther and farther into her decaying zombie state, Zach must tell Beth she's a zombie and hope he doesn't eat her in the process.

Unlike most zombie movies, none of the dead here come back to life immediately craving human flesh or brains. They first try to return to their normal lives as if nothing had ever happened, unaware they had moved on. As time passes, their actions become more and more primal as the basic instincts of survival take over. Eventually, they do devolve into cannibals, powered more by instinct than thought, but none of the zombies are mindless, and they even retain much of their old personality. This trait is what sets "Life After Beth" apart from other mediums concerning the undead. It is able to find something new with the genre in its wacky, zany approach. This film isn't really scary, nor is it meant to be. It is a comedy first, and that comedy is often dry and subtle; when it's not, it shifts to being completely over-the-top in its execution and hilarity. We couldn't help but enjoy this movie and the dark humor it brought to the table, laughing almost continually throughout the film. We were shocked to see its lowish rating on IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes considering it is relatively well acted and has a lot of excellent makeup work throughout its run time. Others have complained about its pacing, but we didn't see this as a problem, remaining thoroughly engaged through each and every minute. It might be fairly predictable towards the end, but the humor alone is enough to make this movie rewatchable in our minds.

My Rating: 7/10
BigJ's Rating: 7/10
IMDB's Rating: 5.7/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 45%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?
Two years ago, we were watching: "The Others"

One year ago, we were watching: "Sinister"

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