3 October 2014 | JohnnyPHreak
An interesting "horror" comedy with some new spins on the sub-genre
The trailer for Life After Beth had me so excited. The cast alone was a treat. Dane DeHaan, John C. Reilly, Molly Shannon, Paul Reiser, Matthew Grey Gubler and Aubry Plaza. For any offbeat comedy, that's a can't miss. Even better for me was the film they were all in was a horror comedy. The trailer came off like a rom-zom-com in the vein of Shaun of the Dead. I was all on board. It took me forever to come across the film but it didn't play out like I thought it would be.
DeHaan stars as Zach the ex-boyfriend of the title character Beth (Plaza) who is going through a rough time. Right before Beth's death, she dumped him. He's not taking it well. His whole wardrobe is heaped in black. He's avoiding his parents (Reiser and Cheryl Hines) and alienated by his by the rules brother (Grey Gubler). He finds solace in Beth's parents (Reilly and Shannon) who actually treat him more like a son than his own parents. But when they stop contacting him he goes to some extremes, borderline stalking, to find out why. He comes to find out they have been hiding Beth. She's not dead but not alive either.
What follows is some hilarity but mostly teenage angst and a weird zombie apocalypse. This film is more a teenage drama comedy with lite sprinkles of horror. It's seems that everyone isn't in on the gag. For the most part everyone plays it straight. DeHaan the most, but he, like the audience, is just trying to adjust to this very odd situation. It works well for him as when craziness does ensue his reactions are natural. He's just trying to make the best of a very new situation and he gives off that he truly loves Beth.
The best comedic moments are given to Reilly and Shannon who are overjoyed their daughter has returned from the grave. And they will do anything to keep that from getting out. Reilly has some great one-liners especially when pitted against the straight act of DeHaan. Sadly 20 minutes before the film ends something happens with his character off screen and it just seems like the film loses what comic edge it has. Grey Gubler gets one really funny scene when the zombies start emerging in numbers. I felt like Reiser and Hines were kind of wasted. Their one standout moment is a nice play on the dead returning to where they use to live. Plaza downplays her normal snarky character here. The best moments are when she goes full on zombie. She gets a chance to channel her main character trait into some primal violence.
The film isn't as funny nor as gory as I had expected. Thinking about a zom-rom-com I thought maybe there would be a bit more gore and humor. But it's most played as people just trying to deal with unexplained situation. It felt like a drama more than anything. But there are some nice plays on the been there done that zombie genre. I guess I over hyped myself because the film I wanted wasn't the film I got. For any fan of the genre the tweaks in the zombie myths are cool. DeHaan, Reilly and Shannon hold the film together each getting a good laugh out loud moment.