Life After Beth`s overblown tone is as forced and unbearable as trying to urinate kidney stones. The movie’s central pitfall is analogical to an uncoordinated idiot who attempts to spin plates on sticks while riding a unicycle, and juggling chainsaws.
This is an aggravating experience because the film attempts to juggle far too many things at once while not doing any of them well: a romantic comedy with an uninteresting relationship, a dark drama that studies a cipher, and a zombie movie that brings nothing original to the well-explored lore. It makes the mistake of having too many dark moments coincide with unfunny running gags.
None of the one-dimensional characters are interesting and the storytelling merely plods along to the predictable and inevitable conclusion. Yet all of the performances are played at an exasperatingly exaggerated tone.
Jeff Baena’s directorial debut follows Zach Orfman (Dane Dehaan in his typecast role of a disturbed teenager) as he grieves the tragic death of his girlfriend, Beth Slocum. When Beth miraculously returns in an odd alternate form where her appearance is intact while gaps exist in her short term memory, Zach is overjoyed but slowly realizes that this is not the girl with whom he fell in love.
The characters are all tedious caricatures designed to brew as many laughs as possible; yet, these poorly conceived personae are the same ones for whom we are to empathize. Caricatures work for comedy not tragedy: or in this case, neither.
Beth’s parents are overbearing and like to yell at the same time, so we can`t understand what they are saying; Zach’s brother is a security guard who has a power complex; and Beth is a nymphomaniacal zombie chasing Zach.
Zach is meant to ground the film and offer it heart as he learns to let go and not live in the lie that is his new relationship with zombie Beth; however, this depth is neglected in order to exploit the ensemble of the surrounding caricatures.
If you don`t leave decapitated by the chainsaws, finally passing the kidney stone will kill you.
Life After Beth’s run at the Rio theatre from September 5 to 8 coincides with the 2014 Vancouver Zombie Walk on September 6. For more information, visit riotheatre.ca.