Indie darlings and Sundance regulars unite in a cool, offbeat zomcom about a boy (Dane DeHaan) who finds it something of a mixed blessing when his girlfriend (Aubrey Plaza) comes back from the dead.
Written ten years ago, before Shaun Of The Dead coined the phrase zomromcom, by first time director (and I Heart Huckabees scribe) Jeff Baena, Life After Beth finally makes its debut in a landscape teeming with zomedies.
Originality, then, isn’t its strong suit.
On the other hand Life After Beth is packed with energy brought by its excellent ensemble cast (John C Reilly, Anna Kendrick, Molly Shannon, Cheryl Hines all take supporting roles) and has enough visual gags, splatstick laughs and outrageous set pieces (Aubrey Plaza in full-on zomb mode taking a romantic hike with a stove strapped to her back) to make it feel freshly dug up.
Plaza is excellent as undead Beth – alternately rageful, randy and rotting with DeHaan playing it mostly straight as her formerly neglectful boyfriend Zach, given a second chance to right things after Beth’s resurrection. The subtext is of the dangers of returning to old relationships and it’s good to see a female zombie in the lead comedy role, a change from Warm Bodies, Dead Heads and The Revenant , as well as Brit indies Harold’s Going Stiff and Colin where the sympathetic sentient zombies were male.
Funnier than Warm Bodies , sweeter than Zombieland , Life After Beth is knowing without being cynical and lurches its own path over well trodden ground, going to show there’s life after Shaun , yet.