31 Days Of Horror (Day 18) – Life After Beth

Things go bump in the night, others will devour your soul, some will slice, dice eat your heart with a nice glass of Chianti. October has now arrived which can mean only one thing 31 Days of Horror has now arrived again. For the next 31 days, we will dive deep into the catacombs of horror to pick you a movie. Every day will be different ranging from the classics to the weird and wonderful. Many you might have heard of, some will be new to you. There will be personal favourites that you may like, others you may hate but they all will unleash those emotions that make us love horror.
Day 18 Aly Lalji looks at Life After Beth , a movie that proves Horror is just all gore and blood. There’s even a romance in the genre, Rom-Zom?

When a screenwriter of a well known film succeeds in his writing, it is customary to be given a fair shot to direct his next writing project. Jeff Baena, the Co-writer of I Heart Huckabees, directed by Academy Award Nominee, David O. Russell, has been given the privilege to direct his second writing project Life After Beth. Merit must be rewarded for his drive and determination to direct this film and call it his debut, however, there is something that lacks to call the film overtly brilliant, because it isn’t. It’s simply satisfactory that grabs the attention from time to time but doesn’t do enough to intrigue the audience due to the lack of pizzazz, zing or zest.

The film was fortunate enough to be nominated for the 2014 Dramatic Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, rightly so losing out to Whiplash a more respected indie flick based on an aspiring, tormented jazz drummer. Nonetheless, the fact that Life After Beth is noted with praise at Sundance, it is a worthy card to play that will pull in a reticent box office result.

The film is called one of the most emotionally credible zom-rom coms since Shaun of the Dead and is a deranged and demented screwball slapstick shocker. Zach played by the brilliant Dane DeHann is devastated by the unexpected death of his girlfriend Beth, played by the even more brilliant Aubrey Plaza. But when she miraculously comes back to life, he’s overjoyed. However, the newly returned Beth isn’t quite how he remembered her, especially with her innovative rotting corpse odour and the tendency of chewing up his car upholstery. Before long Zach’s whole world takes a turn for the worse.

Although the film passes for adequate, the two young leads are what make the film stand out. It is a pleasure to see Dane DeHann evolving to one of Hollywood’s A-List young leading actors. The audience will now begin to enjoy watching his peculiar qualities, culminating from the success of Chronicle and The Amazing Spiderman 2. His insecure and sensitive characteristics make him what he is: An original actor, nothing less. On the other hand, Aubrey Plaza plays Beth with brilliance. Imagine Jack Nicholson’s over the top performance in The Shining; multiply it by a thousand and you get Jackie Nicholson. Plaza gets away with over the top acting and then some.

Beth’s naive unawareness of being dead even makes the viewer wants to take her back and forget about the tragic circumstance. But when she spirals into the deteriorating decaying zombie, she handles ‘mad’ like an actual mental lunatic. The two lovebirds transform their relationship into a George and Lennie (Of Mice and Men) relationship as the ending is akin to this but in a far more black humour kind of way.

Life After Beth may grab some interest for horror fans and an audience that is fond of zombie flicks. To see John C. Reilly as Beth’s father is hilarious and Anna Kendrick as a replacement girlfriend for Beth is a fine substitute. If you like impoliticly correct humour, it may be worth your while, but for a mainstream audience it’s a resounding No!

Aly Lalji

Horror, Comedy, Romance | USA, 2014 | 15 | Koch Media | Dir.Jeff Baena |Aubrey Plaza, Dane Dehaan

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