Life After Beth

She seems like a nice girl right?
"Til Undeath do Us Part."

Hello friends, welcome back to the Tagline! Today I'm keeping the spook rolling with a movie about zombies why not, in this case Life After Beth, starring Aubrey Plaza (you know) as Beth, the recently deceased girlfriend of Zach (Dane DeHaan) who is deeply distraught about it. Beth went hiking alone and died from a snakebite I guess, so that's all very sudden and tragic, except then after spiraling into a weird depression and hanging around her parents' house for a while, Zach notices Beth wandering around inside. This discovery leaves Zach understandably upset, and after some more stalking and almost breaking & entering Zach finally gets Beth's dad Maury (John C. Reilly) to explain what's going on, as best as he understands it. Which is to say he has no idea what's going on, just that Beth rose from the dead and showed up at their house, and doesn't remember dying. This is all very exciting for Zach, who was deeply distraught about Beth's dying, but it is clear from the get go that something isn't quite right with Beth, who seems constantly confused and thinks that she has a big test coming up or something. It isn't long before she begins to visibly decompose, become freakishly strong, and starts experiencing insane mood swings and tries to eat Zach. Those are all totally reasonable reactions to rising from the dead I guess, even if you don't know that's what happened.

Man don't you hate it when your girlfriend shows up all run
over and makes a scene in a parking lot?
Beth also exhibits some other new personality quirks. For some reason she's really fascinated with the attic, and likes to hang out there. Also she gets really turned on by smooth jazz, which I think we can all agree proves that she was raised from the depths of hell. Also it's just generally pretty gross. Zach begins to have serious doubts about the long term prospects of his relationship with Beth, who is clearly not the girl he thought she was... at least not anymore. To complicate an already complicated personal situation, the whole thing gets a lot LESS personal when the dead start rising all over town, creating a quasi-apocalypse situation. I say quasi-apocalypse because it never seems to quite escape what I think Max Brooks refers to as a Class 2... maybe bordering on a Class 3 outbreak of zombies. Of course its a different kind of zombie but the POINT IS that shit gets out of control for a little while but then starts to wind down, as bullets and bonfires reassert the dominance of the living over their dead relatives and associates.

Don't cheat on your zombie-girlfriend with Anna Kendrick
Zach learns over the course of the movie that sometimes you just have to let go, or force her to let go, by shooting her in the head with a .50 caliber handgun and watching her roll down into a ravine with an oven on her back, because she was so strong she was walking around while tied to an oven. I'm not advocating spousal violence, but if she (or he or any other gender pronouns, this applies to everyone) is one of the living dead, maybe consider shooting her head off. Or get eaten I guess! It's really your choice, I can't live your life for you. Themes of escaping an abusive relationship aside, the movie does its best to present an alternate take on the whole zombie romance mash up thing (see another here) but it never really feels like the full feature length is justified by the story on offer. The movie is 90 minutes long, but the glacial pacing makes it feel like they were trying to just stretch out the length by going about every scene in as drawn out a way as possible. This movie could have easily been about 40 minutes long, or fit a vastly extended plot into its run time. As it stands the movie just shambles on... you know like a zombie does.

See look how mad she is!? Just kill her seriously.
Which is a damn shame because the movie had all the pieces to be pretty good. Dane DeHaan is weird but good at being a wienery emo-kid, and Aubrey Plaza is really good at keeping a straight face while she does a string of intensely ridiculous stuff. Was her performance as a girlfriend who slowly turns into a face eating monster chillingly believable and reminiscent of my high school experience? Yeah totally, but that's really more something I probably need to work out with a therapist more than anything else. The supporting cast doesn't get a lot of screen time but they all do a fine job too. Anna Kendrick is criminally under-utilized in this movie. Bottom line is that there just isn't as much movie here as you'd hope for. Its charm ends up wasted on a movie that is about twice as long as it should be.

That's all for today! Join me again for more spooks and scares! WOOOOOOooOOoOOo

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