'Life After Beth' review: Zombie rom-com starts off good, but is DOA by the end

Rating

2.5 Stars2.5/5

Liz Braun, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 4:17 PM ET

If love dies, can you ever breathe new life into the relationship?

That's the question — sort of — at the centre of Life After Beth, a bittersweet comedy about second chances. And zombies.

A pleasantly off-kilter bit of weirdness, Life After Beth is a love story that starts, alas, with Beth's (Aubrey Plaza) demise. We briefly see her hiking in the woods.

Then we see the mourners at her funeral.

Her boyfriend Zach (DeHaan) and her parents (John C. Reilly and Molly Shannon) are broken-hearted. Zach mopes around at Beth's house, wearing one of her old scarves and hanging out with her mom and dad. One day, Zach is upset because Beth's parents won't open the door or speak to him on the phone. He peers through a window at the back of the house and sees… Beth! She's alive!

What's going on?!

That's not exactly clear. Beth's parents prefer to stay in a state of denial and just be happy their child is back home. They ask Zach not to tell anyone that Beth is back. Zach is happy to see Beth but immediately suspicious of some changes in her demeanour. It's little things — her memory is wonky, for example.

She's forgotten that she and Zach were about to break up before her death.

And there's a good chance she might be a zombie. But hey, she's back.

Initially, Zach is very happy to see her.

With time, as her flesh rots and her need to snack on humans increases, Beth becomes less attractive. Her rages escalate (and are kind of hilarious).

Various other dead people start leaving their graves and turning up in town.

Zach's brother, a trigger-happy security guard (Matthew Gray Gubler) becomes a zombie vigilante. By the time Zach realizes it would have been better if Beth had stayed dead, the situation is out of control.

So is the movie.

Life After Beth falls apart eventually, but the first hour is a lot of fun. The story mocks a variety of romantic ideas; it plays like a cross between The Monkey's Paw and Zombieland. Just how unpleasant and messy the end of a love affair can be would seem to be the general drift here, and it's a pity Life After Beth never quite finds its feet. This is a directorial debut from writer/director Jeff Baena.

It will be interesting to see what he does next.

Life After Beth opens Friday in select theatres and will be available on VOD.

Twitter: @LizBraunSun

liz.braun@sunmedia.ca

 


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