We don’t normally go in for effusive introductions to movie reviews, but for the Life After Beth DVD we’re willing to make an exception thanks to its indie-style, left field comedy approach zombie movies. It doesn’t go out of its way to go after a wide catchment area as there will be plenty of people out there that just don’t like this sort of thing, but for anyone that loved Shaun Of The Dead, The Sasquatch Gang or maybe Napoleon Dynamite, this is a movie you might want to watch.
Sadly, the indie gem only had a limited release when it hit the big screens back in August 2014, following on from the Sundance Film Festive premier earlier that year, so you wouldn’t be blamed for not catching it already. The good news is that it was released on DVD, Blu-ray and digital download on the 2nd Feb 2015 and it’s already a contender for future cult classic status in our book. Despite the evident low budget, production companies American Zoetrope, Abbolita Productions, Starstream Entertainment and XYZ Films have done a pretty good job of creating something completely different and incredibly funny.
The story was written by newcomer Jeff Baena, who also does a pretty good job directing the film, and it’s your typical plot of girl (Beth) tells boy (Zach) she wants to break up with him. Girl goes on a hike on her own, gets bitten by a snake, dies unexpectedly and then comes back to life as a walking and talking zombie. OK, so not that typical, but it is a lot of fun, in a surreal comedy sort of way.
There are some fleeting similarities to the Ed Wright zombie comedy, Shaun Of The Dead, but in all fairness Life After Beth is a very different proposition as it focuses solely on the old-school dead coming back to life type of zombie flick and hones in on the random situation that Zach finds himself in when the girl he loved comes back to life as the undead. There’s also a slightly different type of humour to it with a lot of emphasis of the crazy young love parody opportunities that you get with such a deranged situation. Zach necking Beth at the poolside, just happy she’s still around after everything that’s happened, despite the fact that he can clearly see the the snake bite tha killed her on her thigh is a pretty good example of the type of comedy to expect.
The stars of the film, Dane DeHaan (Tulip Fever) as Zach and Aubry Plaza (Parks And Recreation) as Beth, do a stand-up job of pulling off the unusual relationship, delivering some class lines, hilarious interaction and a good amount of dead pan comedy that works very well in the zombie send up. They’re added to by John C. Reilly (Guardians Of The Galaxy) and Molly Shannon (Bad Teacher) who combine well as Beth’s annoyingly happy and protective mum and dad Geenie and Maury, who go to great lengths to keep their daughter’s miraculous revival a secret.
Matthew Gray Gubler ((500) Days Of Summer) is pretty funny as Zach’s gun loving, small town cop older brother Kyle, and Anna Kendrick (Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World) puts in a sickly sweet performance as a potential love rival for Beth.
The Life After Beth DVD definitely gets our seal of approval, but there is a note of caution for anyone that’s a bit squeamish, overly serious or unable to get the subtleties of dry dead pan humour. For everyone else, it’s at least worth a rental, but could be one to have in the collection for a rainy day laugh without any thought process baggage required. Extras include a feature length commentary with Baena, Plaza, Gubler, DeHaan and Shannon, plus a Life After Beth: The Port Mortem featurette with interviews of the cast and a fairly chunky deleted scenes section.
Life After Beth DVD review: 4/5