I was an instant fan of Dane DeHaan’s after my first viewing of the found footage film, Chronicle. His ability to deliver a serious and dramatic performance was uncanny to me. I’ve also always been a huge fan of the hilarious John C. Reilly. When I saw that they were going to be in a film together, there was no question that I was going to sit down and watch it, as soon as I could. That film is Jeff Baena’s zom-com, Life After Beth.
After his girlfriend Beth’s (Aubrey Plaza) death, Zach (Dane DeHaan) is a wreck and no longer knows what to do with his life. He remains close with Beth’s parents, Maury (John C. Reilly) and Geenie (Molly Shannon), but when even they stop returning his calls, he knows something is up. He goes to their house only to uncover the secret that they’ve been keeping from him… Beth is back from the dead! Not only is she back, but things aren’t quite as they were before her untimely death…
I’ve seen a number of zombie comedies or “zom-coms” over the years and for the most part, they are usually pretty enjoyable. Life After Beth, while still one of the enjoyable ones, is totally different from those I’ve watched in the past. It almost seems like two separate films melded together.
When John C. Reilly and Molly Shannon are on screen, you can’t help but laugh out loud. Their quirky style and hilarious dialogue are perfect for lightening the mood in what really is a rather sad story. The feelings and regrets expressed by Dan DeHaan’s character, Zach, can really hit home for those who have lost loved ones of their own. Did I show my appreciation towards that person enough? Did I say ‘I love you’ enough? These are all things people face in real life, when it comes to the finality of death. Although Life After Beth is a comedy, these moments really present this film as a drama instead. This quality is that which separates Baena’s directorial debut from all of those other comedic zombie films.
No matter what you call it — a drama, a comedy, or a horror film — the acting is spot on. DeHaan, Reilly, and Shannon, along with Aubrey Plaza, Paul Reiser, Cheryl Heines, and Matthew Gray Gubler all do a wonderful job bringing life to this film and making it enjoyable from all aspects. They will make you laugh and perhaps tear up, as well.
To check this film out for yourself, pick up a copy on DVD or Blu-ray this Tuesday, October 21.
I give this film 3.5 desert eagles out of 5.