Sundance 2014: Life After Beth reaction

DeHaan and Plaza star in the indie zom-rom-com

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

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