I love you to death and beyond

What starts out as love in a time of the zom­bie apoc­a­lypse un­hap­pily ends up with nowhere to go, writes Tara Brady

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FILM REVIEWS -

LIFE AFTER BETH Di­rected by Jeff Baena Star­ring Aubrey Plaza, Dane DeHaan, Molly Shan­non, Ch­eryl Hines, Paul Reiser, Matthew Gray Gubler, John C. Reilly. 15A cert, gen re­lease, 88 min

Zach (Dane DeHaan) blinks in­de­ci­sively in the nap­kin aisle of the su­per­mar­ket. He’s on the way to his girl­friend Beth’s fu­neral: she has trag­i­cally died after a snakebite on a hik­ing trip.

Lonely and de­pressed, Zach starts to spend more time with Beth’s par­ents (John C Reilly and Molly Parker) un­til one day, he turns up and finds their house bar­ri­caded. Per­sis­tent in­quiries and peeks through the win­dow al­low Zach to dis­cover that Beth (Aubrey Plaza) is back from the dead and sus­pi­ciously nicer than he re­mem­bers her.

Her fa­ther in­sists that they don’t use the “z word” but it soon be­comes clear that a zom­bie apoc­a­lypse is on the way.

Jeff Baena’s ini­tially clever zom-com makes merry with

dead­ened teen in­flec­tions, as be­fits a film fea­tur­ing the star of Parks and Recre­ation and the ti­tle voice of the in­com­ing Grumpy Cat film. (Your in­ter­net clicks caused this: now live with it.) In qui­eter mo­ments, one longs for the hus­tle and bus­tle of The Vir­gin Sui­cides.

That’s not to say that the film is dull or un­event­ful. As an out­sized, mon­strous ro­mance, Life After Beth is funny and like­able. The cast is pop­u­lated by tal­ented peo­ple, none more so than Chron­i­cle’s Dean DeHaan, who makes for a splen­didly un­con­ven­tional lead­ing man. Un­hap­pily, as a zom­bie movie, the film has nowhere to go. There are no ex­pla­na­tions or sat­is­fac­tory res­o­lu­tions be­fore the fi­nal cred­its. There is only a per­func­tory end­ing.

Beth’s af­flic­tion plays as a com­i­cal set of ref­er­ences to The Ex­or­cist, but far out­stays its wel­come. Plaza’s per­for­mance, in turn, be­comes too silly, even for hu­mor­ous pur­poses.

Good ef­fort. Great ac­tors. But a missed op­por­tu­nity.

Kitchen nightmares Dane DeHaan and Aubrey Plaza in Life After Beth

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