Showing: Thu 26 June – 18:20 @ Cineworld Fountain Park // Fri 27 June – 20:30 @ Filmhouse 1
Director: Jeff Baena
Starring: Dane DeHaan, Aubrey Plaza, John C Reilly, Anna Kendrick, Cheryl Hines, Paul Reiser
Running Time: 91 Minutes
The zombie flick is a well-trodden formula, and it wouldn’t be stretch to say that the market has been somewhat saturated as of late. First time director Jeff Baena made his name a while back as the co-writer of David O Russell’s oddball comedy I Heart Huckabees, and now hopes to bring his own brand of humour to the horror sub-genre.
The story kicks off at the wake of the recently deceased Beth (Plaza), who falls foul of a fatal snake bite while hiking nearby. Her boyfriend Zach (DeHaan) is struggling to cope, with frequent visits to see her father (Reilly) acting as a therapy of sorts. However his mourning period becomes even more chaotic when Beth arrives back at the family home as if nothing happened, and his brief elation at her return turns sour when it slowly becomes apparent that she is of the undead.
It’s clear from the start that this is Baena’s first feature, unfortunately; the direction is sloppy, and gags which should be funny fall flat as a consequence. The script itself is witty enough to induce a few laughs, however where the likes of successful zom-com flicks like Shaun of the Dead had an effective social commentary to anchor its humour, Beth feels instead like a string of hit and miss sequences with little depth. There are some good performances on display here: DeHaan and Reilly rise above the poor direction and bring laughs most consistently, however there are others who struggle to get a proper grasp on the material.
There are some who will get a kick from Life After Beth‘s off-beat humour, but for the most part this is a bit of an aimless mess. Perhaps this is the over-exposure of the zombie finally starting to wear thin, and begs the ironic question of how much life there is left in this undead formula.