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. Written by
Life After Beth is a movie as confused as its main protagonist Zach Orfman, a movie that can't decide whether it's a laugh out loud comedy, a gross out dramedy or satirical runoff of the ever saturated zombie filled marketplace and as a result of its genre confusion, Life After Beth is a basket case of a film that at times becomes so bad you feel sorry for all the talented members of the cast who obviously saw some potential in this tale.
Dane DeHaan, John C. Reilly, Aubrey Plaza, Molly Shannon and Anna Kendrick, it's a competent cast, Reilly alone is always a fine big screen presence and DeHaan has over a few short years shown himself to be one of the finest up and coming actors in the business, but no one here comes out on top. DeHaan is annoying as grieving boyfriend Zach, Reilly and Shannon get short changed with one note characters and the toughest gig of all in the form of Beth played by Plaza couldn't have been saved by any amount of great acting. Beth is such a strange and unfulfilling character you begin to pity Plaza's plight and it's safe to say she gives it her all in a committed performance that deserved a better movie.
A huge chunk of Life After Beth's failings can be attributed to director/writer Jeff Baena's failings to control the films tonal shifts. At any one moment we will be asked to feel sympathy for lost loves then the next moment something crazy will happen that either feels totally out of place or just downright lame. The script fails to zing, the pacing feels off and the overall product that has been placed into completion feels far too close to a student movie than one would care to see. It's a real shame that there are so many failings in this picture as you do get the feeling that there is a good film here, somewhere deep down amongst all the wannabe funnies or the romantic sentiments that don't resonate.
Life After Beth is a strange event, from the outset you get the feeling something just isn't right and as you get further and further into this murky love story your vision becomes clear that this is just a lost film that didn't have a solid enough identity to make it succeed. There are some fine actors in here but they're lost in a short running time that feels much longer than it is due to a lack of any sort of audience engagement. A real non-event, Life After Beth is an out and out misfire.
1 oven out of 5
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