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Life After Beth


Stars: Dane DeHaan, Aubrey Plaza, John C Reilly, Molly Shannon, Cheryl Hines, Paul Reiser, Matthew Gray Gubler, Anna Kendrick, Jim O'Heir

Director: Jeff Baena

Since horror is the about the only major cinematic genre to survive for more than a century, few weeks pass without yet another slice of cinema shock (or, rather too often, celluloid schlock) bleeding onto the screen.

Here Jeff Baena (cowriter with David O Russell of the latter’s trendy and much-admired comedy I Heart Huckabees) doubles as writer and debut director of a blackish shocker that blends comedy, romance and the diabolical Undead into a passable but essentially not particularly memorable zombie show. (On the credit side, however, I preferred it to Simon Pegg’s similarly intended but over-self-conscious Shaun of the Dead).

It’s essentially the old ‘boy meets ghoul’ story.

When his girlfriend Aubrey Plaza dies, Dane DeHaan is understandably grief-stricken. His parents Cheryl Hines and Paul Reiser fail to register with his grief, leaving the lad to hang out with his Plaza’s parents John C Reilly and Molly Shannon.

The story gets its shot of adrenaline when DeHaan discovers Plaza has mysteriously come back from the grave and, promising her parents to keep her return a secret, he resumes their romance. But as time passes and she becomes stranger by the moment, he comes to realise that he is romancing a zombie…

Eventually he moans, “Now I just wish she would stay dead”. Which, of course she does, with grisly – if predictable – results.

The actors enter into the fairly obvious spirit of the film with commendable enthusiasm, comic elements are reasonably well integrated – the best of which is the title – while horrorflick completists might well be consider waiting for the DVD.

Alan Frank

USA 2014. UK Distributor: Koch Film. Colour.
89 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 2, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 2, Swearing 2.

Review date: 30 Sep 2014