Relationships and love can be a challenging component of our lives, countless works of art have dedicated themselves to the subject, and the dissolving of these relationships is even more dramatic, with more emotional turmoil than could fill hundreds of albums and thousands of films. In 2014, even the subject of life after love wasn’t safe from the ever-popular claws of the zombie genre as the duo made strange bedfellows in Life After Beth.
Zach can’t believe it when his girlfriend Beth, unfortunately, passes away. Distraught, her parents turn to some extraordinary means to bring their daughter back to the land of the living, keeping her recent bereavement hidden from her, and Zach attempts to resume their relationship. Make no mistake, Beth is back but is radically different; A new personality and changes in her tastes make carrying on this relationship increasingly challenging, even apocalyptic. Zach must deal with the possibility of Life After Beth.
This peculiar project has attracted an assortment of names that those who are knowledgeable about the comedy scene might be familiar with. Aubrey Plaza brings her a game as the increasingly feral Beth, the process of her decay from a slight inconvenience to something much more deadly. Zach to life-threatening is playfully done. Speaking of Zach, the stakes of the films are communicated well by Dane DeHaan, serving as a competent every man of the piece. There are other recognisable talents, like the talents of comedy professionals Molly Shannon and John C. Riley, who almost steal the show as Beth’s parents who are willing to do anything for their daughter’s happiness. With such a collection of comics and stars, Life After Beth helps deliver the human element in this zombie romantic comedy.
While the rom-com starts out fairly surreal, it descends more into a typical zombie survival film familiar to many, especially with the population of zombie-related media at the time. Life after Beth sets itself apart with the unconventional rules of this magical realist reality are fully realised, as they have some irreverent jabs at established conventions. I like for instance how the undead are partial to smooth jazz, (a genre I’m a particular fan of) and how the character appearances are worsened by the sun. (a common complaint among teenagers, made extraordinary here) It is moments like this where the film expertly pokes fun at the two genres it borrows from.
Life after Beth is a laugh out loud take on the separation process, wonderfully bringing some much-needed stimulation to try and tested styles. The premise is charming enough peppered with gags and a good cast that help accentuate the fun at the all too familiar process of ending a relationship and the familiarity of certain scenarios these popular films typically portray. Life After Beth shows there is bite in both the zombie genre and the romantic-comedy-drama yet.
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