Life After Beth (2014)
Dir: Jeff Baena
A bit like ‘Warm Bodies‘ this is a Zom-Rom-Com… Sadly with too much ‘zom’, not as much ‘rom’, and not enough ‘com’.
Zach (Dane DeHaan, ‘Amazing Spider-Man 2’) is feeling lost after the funeral of his girlfriend Beth (Aubrey Plaza, ‘Safety Not Guaranteed’), and starts visiting her house to spend time with her parents (John C. Reilly and Molly Shannon), but after a few days they stop answering the door or his phone calls. When Zach sees Beth walking around in the house he is drawn into their dark secret, and his relationship with her faces some unusual problems!
It would be easy to just compare it to ‘Warm Bodies’ film that surprised me with how much I enjoyed it, but they are really very different, with a completely different style of humour. As it stars Aubrey Plaza and John C. Reilly I was expecting something a little like ‘Cyrus’, and ‘Safety Not Guaranteed’ both of which I really enjoyed. Sadly though it wasn’t quite on par with them.
There are some clever aspects to this, firstly the witty title, and the story is such a greatly odd premise, especially when Beth’s parents are hiding her in the house and completely avoiding asking the obvious but tough questions. Where it goes wrong later is by adding overused ‘Zombie Apocalypse’ levels of disaster to the story, it’s much better focusing on the family and Beth as a small isolated incident.
Writer/director Jeff Baena is the man partly responsible for writing ‘I Heart Huckabees’, a film rarely spoken of with much warmth. In fact, according to IMDb, Baena has been essentially hibernating for nearly 10 years. I remember being taught at university that writers need to write lots to work the rubbish out of their system before their best work starts coming, but I don’t know if that’s what he spent the last 10 years doing, as this writing, though it starts with so much promise and originality, ends up mainly going the way of so much else that it’s a bit of a disappointment.
The cast is a greeat ensemble, and I don’t think they are an issue, I’m a fan of prettymuch all of them and think that each cast memeber was well suited for their roles, especially the main leads. I was a very surprised to see Anna Kendrick in a small role, I didn’t know she was in this, and maybe the film could’ve done with more of her as I think she’s great and her part had potential for some great stuff but she’s very briefly used.
Also, I didn’t at first recognise him, but it’s nice to see Paul Reiser on screen again. I was a huge fan of ‘Mad About You’ and though that style of comedy might not have been what was required for his role here, I still think that he could have been given more to work with in adding to the laugh quota. I get that dark humour isn’t always meant to be laugh out loud, but some of the best can summon an unexpected laugh from absurd situations and surprising scenarios, which really should’ve been the strength of this film.
Sadly not the best example of this genre, there was potential, but though all the parts are there they weren’t fully realised to the desired effect. It might be time for this one to end up buried, and likely it’ll just stay there.