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Life After Beth (Blu-ray Review)

Life-After-BethLife After Beth was a zombie romantic comedy in competition this past year at the Sundance Film Festival.  The film was later release in a limited capacity in theaters in the United States back on August 15 (No, it did not topple the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or Guardians Of The Galaxy).  It stars up and coming, or current indie superstar, Aubrey Plaza who’s mainly made a name for herself on Parks and Recreation.  In a recent report from someone at an independent film fair with indies looking for distributors, it was noted she starred in like 80% of the comedies being sold.  It seems in the world of low budget indie comedy film making she’s sort of become what Malcolm McDowall has been to low budget independent horror films.  Anywho, Life After Beth hits Blu-ray next Tuesday, so let’s take a look at it.

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Film 

Zach’s girlfriend, Beth has passed on.  She died from a snakebite while out on a hike.  Following her funeral, Zach begins spending plenty of time with her parents and sharing his open feelings about how Beth was beginning to have thoughts of seeing other people.  One day though, Beth’s parent’s stop answering the phone and the door to their house.  Zach wants to know what’s going on.  He discovers that Beth is alive and roaming around their house.  One night she just showed up at the front door.  Her parents not asking or caring to know the answers, just happy she’s back.  But she has no memory of her last day and seems to have an aggressive edge to her.  Zach decides to just be happy, but Beth starts acting stranger and many people in town start acting just like her.

Life After Beth is a pretty nice concept that I think gets stretched a bit too thin.  It wants to play it straight and a bit deeper than just being the comedy the studio is trying to sell this movie as.  As a result, things become a little weird and start working to becoming uninteresting and extremely predictable by the end.  There is a more novel and unique approach to the nature of zombies in this film, and I do give it much credit for that.  However, there’s enough for maybe a 30-40 minute short film here and not that for a full feature.  Oddly, I think Return Of The Living Dead 3, which features this exact same idea of “your dead girlfriend is now a zombie” was more capable of fleshing out a full film of this concept than Life After Beth.  That one is a weird movie (that I do have quite a fondness for), but manages to make it through the film without feeling thin.

Aubrey Plaza is the highlight of the film easily.  Her performance continues to show she has such an incredible range within the world of comedy.  She could have been someone who is a one note performer, but she’s really opened up and become much more.  Dane DeHaan is back in his normal wheelhouse and much better here than he was in Spider-man.  Speaking of digging up people, PAUL REISER is in this movie.  I can’t tell you the last time I remember seeing him in something.  And while this was a film I was looking forward to seeing, it got away from me that Anna Kendrick was in the movie and took me by surprise when she showed up later on sometime in the middle of the second act.  Someone I’m not familiar with caught my eye.  Zach’s brother, played by Matthew Gubler, was pretty funny in this and one of the most solid aspect throughout the whole thing.  The cast is all game and do their best as you’d expect.

Zombie Romantic Comedy Life After Beth isn’t a bad film, it’s just an okay one.  Some of the comedy in the film is really good, but it too deeply wants some of this to be taken much too seriously.  And its all unique and such, but the end game is rather everything you probably thought it would be when you know the concept of “boy has zombie girlfriend”.  The performers do a terrific job and definitely enhance the material.  I’d also say the director is someone to kind of have on the radar as this could be a decent start directing (as for writing, he’s got this and I Heart Huckabees which I really wasn’t a fan of).  Its possible many finding this on home video will enjoy this more than I did.  Its definitely worth a rental or Netflix watch at some point.

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Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Clarity/Detail:  The film boasts a rather dark, but rich transfer.  The image is sharp and very lifelike.  Detail is high, but some scenes are a bit too dark, hiding a little bit of the detail.  Clothing and surface textures prove to be plenty detailed as well as hair strands.

Depth: Depth is above average.  There are some great moments, in particular when Dane DeHaan is sitting poolside that really open up and showcase the dimensions on display.

Black Levels:  Blacks are really deep.  This film features a lot of dark scenes and blacks are really rich.  Its nicely done and shades work quite well.

Color Reproduction:  Colors are strong and bold.  Its a vibrant looking picture without colors being extremely poppy.

Flesh Tones:  Flesh tones looks natural and feature plenty of detail.  Aubrey Plaza’s facial deterioration as well as other zombie characters looks finely detailed.

Noise/Artifacts:  None witnessed.

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Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish

Dynamics:  Believe it or not, this is more of a vocal movie than anything.  But, the accompanying effects do sound realistic and hit the spot when they are called upon to do their duty.  The score is woven in quite nicely, making for a solid, but not quite spectacular track.

Low Frequency Extension: Pounding as well as the little bits of action there is in the movie are enhanced by the subwoofer.

Surround Sound Presentation: Not much aside from some ambiance and score.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Loud and clear.

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Extras 

Life After Beth comes with an UltraViolet Digital Copy of the film.

Audio Commentary

  • With Writer/Director Jeff Baena and Actors Aubrey Plaza, Dane DeHaan and Matthew Gubler

Life After Beth: The Post Mortem (HD, 15:48) – A nice, somewhat extensive look back at the film featuring interviews with the director, Aubrey Plaza, Dane DeHaan and other members of the cast.

Deleted Scenes (HD, 19:45)

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Summary 

While I was only “okay” with the film, Lionsgate has delivered a pretty solid Blu-ray release here.  The transfer and audio are quite top notch.  As far as bonus material, it doesn’t look like much but you’re getting a commentary and 15 minute retrospective that combines for quite extensive knowledge on the film from key members of the production.  Also almost 20 minutes of deleted scenes as well as a digital copy to have anywhere amount to having quite a bit from this release.  I definitely think those interest should rent this before buying, but if you do like the film, Lionsgate has got you hooked up with a good release.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

2 Responses to “Life After Beth (Blu-ray Review)”


  1. Aaron Neuwirth

    Agreed with your assessment.

    You mention Paul Reiser, between this, Whiplash, and the FX show Married, I am so happy to see him emerge as a solid character actor.

  2. Brian White

    Ouch! I was hoping this one would have been better. I guess it goes to eBay!