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Life After Beth Review: Zombie Aubrey Plaza Anchors This Horror Comedy

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life after bethIt takes a bright mind to bring new life to the zombie film these days, and even more so for the sub-genre of romantic zombie horror/comedies. Not because the subject matter is extremely difficult or anything; there just happens to be a dearth of bright minds behind the endless stream of undead-centered movies churned out on a yearly basis. While it has its share of tonal problems, Jeff Baena’s directorial debut, Life After Beth, stands far above the middle ground with exuberant performances from a star-studded cast and a sincerely bizarre sense of humor.

Baena, who co-wrote David O. Russell’s I Heart Huckabees, also wrote the screenplay for Life After Beth, which hones in on one particular instance of the dead rising, set on the outskirts of a larger outbreak. After a lovely opening that gives audiences their only peek into Aubrey Plaza’s Beth while she’s properly alive, the film settles in on Zach (Dane DeHaan), a young man anxiously grieving over Beth’s death-by-snakebite. Unable to find closure for a relationship that was in mid-turmoil, Zach pals up to Beth’s parents, Maury and Geenie, played with gleefully unhinged paranoia by John C. Reilly and Molly Shannon. But that friendship takes a strong left turn once he makes a certain discovery.

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Aubrey Plaza Curbs Hunger Pains In Zombie Comedy Life After Beth’s Trailer And Posters

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Zombie movies used to reside strictly within the horror genre, and then Dan O’Bannon came along and revealed the comedic side of the genre with Return of the Living Dead. With Warm Bodies came the “romantic zombie comedy,” a microtrend that is being pushed forward with rampant glee by Jeff Baena in his directorial debut, Life After Beth. We now have our first good look at the film through two generic posters and a surprisingly enjoyable trailer, seen above.

I’m glad I’m married so that I don’t have to worry about random girlfriends turning into people-eating monsters. (Possibly not the only reason.) In Life After Beth, Dane DeHaan (Chronicle) plays Zach, whose true love Beth (Parks & Rec‘s Aubrey Plaza) suddenly dies, leaving him to mope and sulk to his broken heart’s content. That is, until he discovers Beth’s grave has been desecrated and that her parents are hiding something. As you can imagine, that “something” is Beth herself, who has been miraculously revived in some way. At first, things are fine and dandy, as the couple goes back to doing the things they used to, with Zach poking fun at Beth about having zombie tendencies.

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Aubrey Plaza Is A Hungry Zombie In First Look At Comedy Life After Beth

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life after bethEarlier this year, Jonathan Levine’s zombie love story Warm Bodies seemed to please fans of Isaac Marion’s novel, and it took in over three times its budget in the global box office. But it wasn’t exactly a classic, and I forget it exists more often than not. As such, the appearance of another undead romance inspires more guttural groans than excitement, but Jeff Baena’s directorial debut Life After Beth has a huge, talented cast of comedians that makes me think it will have quite a bit more brains than the average zombie victim. (More small intestines, too.) And of the film’s recently released first images, the one seen above is by far the most impressive. If you’re gonna have a zombie movie, you’d better tease your potential audience with something dead and bloody.