When a screenwriter pens a successful and well-known film, they are often given the change to direct his next writing project. Jeff Baena, the co-writer of I Heart Huckabees, directed by Academy Award-nominee, David O. Russell, has turned his attention to Life After Beth. Whilst merit must be given to his drive and dtermination, there is something lacking in this film. It should be overtly brilliant, but it isn't. It’s simply satisfactory that grabs the attention from time to time, but doesn’t do enough to intrigue the audience due to the lack of pizzazz, zing or zest.
The film is called one of the most emotionally credible zom-rom-coms since Shaun of the Dead and is a deranged and demented screwball slapstick shocker. Zach (played by the brilliant Dane DeHann) is devastated by the unexpected death of his girlfriend Beth (played by the even more brilliant Aubrey Plaza). But when she miraculously comes back to life, he’s overjoyed. However, the newly returned Beth isn’t quite how he remembered her, especially with her offensive rotting corpse odour and tendency to chew up his car upholstery. Before long, Zach’s whole world takes a turn for the worse.
Although the film only just passes as adequate, the two young leads are what make the film stand out. It is a pleasure to see DeHann evolving to one of Hollywood’s A–list young leading actors. The audience are now beginning to enjoy watching his peculiar qualities, culminating from the success of Chronicle and The Amazing Spider-Man 2. His insecure and sensitive characteristics make him what he is: an original actor, nothing less. On the other hand, Aubrey Plaza plays Beth with brilliance. Imagine Jack Nicholson’s over-the-top performance in The Shining; multiply it by a thousand and you get Jackie Nicholson. Plaza gets away with over-the-top acting and then some.
Life After Beth may grab some interest for horror fans and an audience that is fond of zombie flicks. To see John C. Reilly as Beth’s father is hilarious and Anna Kendrick as a replacement girlfriend for Beth is a fine substitute. If you like politically incorrect humour, it may be worth your while, but for a mainstream audience it’s a resounding "no!"