Life After Beth (2014)

life after beth poster 2014 movie aubrey plaza
7.0 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 7/10

Good concept with genre blends

Off-balanced story can't decide if it wants to be smart comedy or goofy

Movie Info

Movie Name:   Life After Beth

Studio:   American Zoetrope

Genre(s):   Comedy/Horror/Romance

Release Date(s):   January 19, 2014 (Sundance)/August 15, 2014 (US)

MPAA Rating:   R

life after beth aubrey plaza dane dehaan zombie

Dead girlfriends are demanding…

Beth Slocum (Aubrey Plaza) is dead.  She was bitten by a snake while out running and her parents (John C. Reilly and Molly Shannon) and her boyfriend Zach Orfman (Dane DeHaan) are mourning her death.  When Beth shows up again, Zach realizes she’s “undead” and that something strange is happening in the town.  Now, Zach’s got a dead girlfriend and more problems are mounting…losing Beth was easier than when she came back.

Written and directed by Jeff Baena, Life After Beth is a horror-comedy.  The film was released at Sundance on January 19, 2014 and a nationwide release on August 15, 2014.  The movie was met with mixed reviews.

Zombies (especially in 2014) were an “it” item.  The Walking Dead was soaring in popularity and zombies were also getting a lot of post-modern exploration with movies like Zombieland poking fun at the genre.  Life After Beth combines a romance, comedy, and horror movie with mixed results.

life after beth 2014 garry marshall zombie last movie

I hate when your dead grandparents come home

Life After Beth gives the appearance of one of those “wacky” zombie movies where being a zombie is really incidental and comedy driven.  In many senses, this is true in the movie, but the third act has the movie getting really, really weird.  It remains with the high comedy themes, but then has extremely dark moments.  It is just a lot darker than you expect from the movie’s tone up until this point which continues to joke even after it everything turns.

The cast is quite good.  Aubrey Plaza gets to bring her negative character to the bipolar zombie Beth who rages while Dane DeHaan has to be acting in a drama within the comedy.  The parents are strong (but weirdly underused) with more screentime for John C. Reilly and Molly Shannon than Paul Reiser and Cheryl Hines.  Anna Kendrick has a small role along with Alia Shawkat, and Plaza’s Parks and Rec costar Jim O’Heir.  It also has the last film appearance of Garry Marshall playing Zach’s dead grandfather.

life after beth 2014 aubrey plaza zombie movie

You never take me out to eat brains!!!

The movie has the weird balance of trying to look like a zombie movie.  While Zombieland really boosted the gore, Life After Beth kind of tones down the special effects and gory zombies.  Along with the comedy, it pumps the movie full of smooth jazz (which calms the zombies).  I kind of expected more in the lines of Zombieland, but this works as well.

Life After Beth is ok, but it isn’t great.  The idea that it is a zombie romance break-up movie is interesting and has potential for the allegory of a dying relationship, but I think both themes could have been pushed a little harder.  The movie can’t quite decide if it is a laugh out loud comedy or an art picture with more meaning leaving it in a bit of a limbo.  Zombie lovers should probably take note of this movie, but don’t expect the typical horrors that come with zombie films.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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