Life After Beth (2014)

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Life After Beth (2014)Starring Aubrey Plaza, John C. Reilly, Dane DeHaan, Paul Reiser, and Anna Kendrick

Directed by Jeff Baena

I first discovered actor Dane DeHann through his excellent work in the television series “In Treatment.” I’ve followed his career through the sci-fi found footage sensation Chronicle to the little-known but no less excellent Beat generation true crime drama Kill Your Darlings. This year he’s in everything from popcorn-fueled blockbusters (The Amazing Spider-Man) to under-the-radar indie horror – which brings us to the review at hand for Life After Beth.

Life After Beth gets off to an intriguing start as we meet the titular Beth (Plaza) strolling along the wooded trails of Los Angeles’ famed Griffith Park, keeping in step with music by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. Unfortunately, as it turns out, young Beth has been killed by a snakebite while hiking.

Following her burial, Beth’s boyfriend, Zach (DeHaan), is devastated and unable to move on. He clings to Beth’s parents (Reilly and Molly Shannon), and all of them simply hold on for dear life… And lo and behold, their dear comes back to life!

Much like on a few new popular TV series – corpses returning from the grave, seemingly normal and with no recollection of having died, is now trendy – Beth is back and doesn’t remember a thing. Zach eventually concedes Beth is indeed a zombie, but he doesn’t care – at least, not at first. But then Beth isn’t the only reanimated roadkill, and soon the town is overrun with more former residents returned from the beyond.

While the premise is fine, the execution is choppy. Heavy themes mixed with light and funny situations clash, and as a result Life After Beth never quite gels. Still — I loved the cast (including many cool cameos), the music, cinematography and atmosphere. It’s worth a look for sure.

3 out of 5

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Staci Layne Wilson

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