Reviewed By

Christopher Armstead
Zach (Dane DeHaan) loves him some Beth something awful, and why wouldn't he since she's completely adorable and looks exactly like Aubrey Plaza.  Tragically one day, and we don't know how, but the young woman dies and Zach's life is destroyed.  But this film 'Life After Beth' is a zombie movie so she's coming back… but more on that later.

As a coping mechanism, Zach has been spending a lot of time… an unhealthy amount of time… with Beth's parents Maury (John C. Reilly) and Geenie Slocum (Molly Shannon), until they don't seem to want him around anymore.  Are they moving on with their lives without Beth?  No… actually… they are hiding Beth who has somehow clawed her way out of her grave.

Eventually Zach figures this out, forces his way into the Slocum's home and is finally reunited with his true love.  Sure, there are some things that are odd about Beth, such as a frayed memory, Beth not remembering that she actually broke up with Zach before she passed on, but she's still Beth, just with worse breath.  Not that Beth's bad breath is going to stop Zach from having sex with her.  That's crazy talk.

There are some other strange things happening in this little sleepy town as Beth doesn't seem to be the only one who has somehow returned from the other side, and while those who have come back seem to start out normal, I'm thinking the lack of a blood flow might lead to some brain decay which leads to some seriously erratically violent behavior.  Unless you happen to have access to the smooth sounds of Dave Koz or Najee or Kenny G to soothe these savage beasts.

Still, despite Beth's worsening condition, and the fact that the end of the world seems to upon us as the Dead are walking the earth en masse, Zach still loves him some Beth.  Can there be love in the time of zombie, or does the axiom, if you love somebody, let them go, hold true?
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Writer / Director Jeff Baena's 'Life after Beth' is a strange film, one I'm not sure what to make of, but at least I can tell you I liked it.  I think.  You see, this is a difficult film to get a decent grip on, which it shouldn't be since the film is pretty darned straight forward.  Admittedly the genre of Rom/Zom/Com might not be all that common, but 'Life after Beth' still sets up its story like a typical RomCom with the slight reversal of starting off with Boy has lost girl / Boy gets girl back / Boy must lose girl again.

The issue behind trying to wrap one's mind around this movie is trying to figure out, 'what kind of movie is this trying to be?'  It's listed as a comedy, and there are some genuinely funny people in this movie such as glorious return of Paul Reiser… at least I don't know where he's been for the last few years… but there's really not a lot about 'Life after Beth' that's all that funny.  It's somewhat amusing, but not very funny. 

The romance part… well… that's a little difficult to reconcile too.  Sure, Beth is the zombie, but Zach is the one who seems to have the real issues.  I want to be happy that Zach's dead girlfriend has clawed her way out the grave and now they can be together forever, or until she eats him, but I deep inside I was watching this movie hoping Zach would find a mental health professional and get some assistance.

But I did like the movie.  The performances were earnest with the entire cast in a place between being in on the joke, but still taking the events around them deadly serious.  Dane DeHaan really, truly looks like he needs to get more sleep though.  The film had a pace which was all it's own, say a regular movie runs at 4\4 time, 'Life after Beth' operated at 4.5\3.2 time, which might indicate that the movie had no rhythm, but like that stoned chick at the house party who is in the corner dancing completely off beat, you know she's hearing some kind of rhythm that's working for her, and the same can be said for this movie.  And in the end it was all kind of bittersweet, and that wouldn't have worked if the setup that came prior wasn't working.

Truly, 'Life after Beth' is a unique cinema experience, one that comes with that unwanted label of 'It might not be for everyone',  but in a sea of sameness, it does at least offer up something somewhat fresh, despite the presence of rotting flesh, and that among other things is what makes it unique.
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