Director: Jeff Baena
Writer: Jeff Baena
Production Companies: Abbolita Productions, American Zoetrope, Destro Films, Starstream Entertainment
Stars: Aubrey Plaza, Dane DeHaan, John C. Reilly, Molly Shannon, Cheryl Hines, Paul Reiser, Matthew Gray Gubler, Anna Kendrick
What It’s About: Zach’s recently deceased girlfriend mysteriously returns from the dead…but she’s not quite what he remembered.
How I Watched It: Alone in my apartment. Evening.
Thoughts: We start out the film with Beth (Plaza) walking in the woods. She thinks she hears something, and looks back…then continues on. Fade out.
Flash forward a few days, to Zach (DeHaan) in a supermarket purchasing napkins. They’re for Beth’s funeral. Apparently she received a fatal snake bite out on her hike. The funeral is really very awkward, but we get introduced to nearly all of the key players here. This movie starts out in a very dramatic way, but seeing actors such as John C. Reilly, Molly Shannon and Cheryl Hines makes you rethink that.
One night, when Zach is going over to visit Beth’s parents (Reilly and Shannon), he can’t get anyone to answer the door. He goes around the house peaking into windows, trying to figure out what’s going on. Much to his surprise, he spots who appears to be Beth in one of the windows. Unable to believe his eyes, Zach busts into the house through a window and confronts them. There stands Beth. Looking just as beautiful as he remembered. However, she couldn’t remember a thing. She didn’t even remember that just before her alleged death, they had actually broken up. Beth has no recollection of what happened to her.
Instead of being completely weirded out by this, they all carry on like it never happened. Occasionally, Zach becomes concerned that maybe she’s becoming a zombie. Lots of things that Beth does now, are uncharacteristic of her usual self. For one, she wants to live in the attic (perhaps to be as far above ground as possible?). She breaks out into violent spurts…which can only be calmed by listening to smooth jazz. She bears un-human strength. Oh, and she’s slowly but surely rotting inside and out. I think Zach can start to worry now.
Aubrey Plaza’s performance as a zombie is…interesting. There were times when I found her really hilarious–a lot of those times being very reminiscent of her role as April Ludgate on Parks and Rec. Other times, she just seemed to…growl and act like either an animal, or insane child.
Eventually, we discover that Beth isn’t the only one of the local dead walking the earth. We get glimpses through the film of people who look pretty zombie-ish, but eventually long-lost relatives start returning home and everyone takes notice. It’s time to put an end to the madness…and thus begins a somewhat comedic apocalypse scenario: the living killing the living dead to reclaim the earth.
This movie is a VERY dark and subtle comedy. This isn’t your slapstick zombie comedy. I think that the supporting cast is what really sells this movie for me. John C. Reilly and Molly Shannon play perfectly concerned parents with a heavy dose of denial. There’s a scene toward the end when Beth is in full-zombie mode, that Shannon is actually feeding Beth her own fingers because she’s concerned about her being hungry. 😄
Zach’s family is pretty hilarious as well. Cheryl Hines and Paul Reiser team up to play the unbelieving parents. Then we have Matthew Gray Gubler playing the older brother who has an unhealthy obsession with firearms. Gubler’s part was one of my favorites, even though he played the douche-tastic military wanna-be. He did it well.
My Rating: Meh.
While I love dark comedies, this one had a hard time holding my interest. The star-studded cast adds some flavor, but ultimately doesn’t pay off as well as I would have hoped. I was sort of on the line about this movie. Part of me wants to say that I like it, but it didn’t quite tip my meter one way or the other.
How Can I Watch It?: Available on Amazon, iTunes, and Vudu. I rented this from the local Family Video.