Rated R. Running time: 1 hour 30 min.
Our content ratings: Violence 6; Language 3; Sex 6/Nudity 2.
Our star ratings (0-5): 3.5
My heart is in anguish within me,
the terrors of death have fallen upon me.
Director/writer Jeff Baena gives us a very different zombie film in this dark comedy/romance film. Zack Orfman (Dane DeHaan) is so devastated when his girl friend Beth (Aubrey Plaza) dies of a snakebite while out hiking that he finds comfort only in hanging out with her parents Geenie and Maury Slocum (John C. Reilly and Molly Shannon). Over a chess game Maury even asks to be called “Maury.” Then comes the day when no one answers the doorbell. Same during Zack’s next would-be visit. Snooping around and trying to peer through the window blinds, he catches a glimpse of—Beth!
His parents (Cheryl Hines and Paul Reiser), of course, do not believe him, and his older brotherKayle (Matthew Gray Gubler), a security officer obsessed with becoming a policeman, especially chides him. Undeterred, Zack at last barges into the Slocums’ house and, pushing by the protesting parents, faces Beth. She does not remember being bitten or dying, or that she had decided to break off with Zack, so later her father makes him promise that he would not tell Beth of her demise. Geenie prefers to call Beth’s return “a resurrection,” though Zack fears a darker explanation is in order, that she might be a zombie.
Fearful of their community, the Slocums try to keep Beth’s “resurrection” a secret. They try to keep the reunited couple from leaving the house, but they manage to slip away at times. Zack notices a greater interest in sex in Beth, as well as an extreme mood swing. Around town he also notices strange behavior—a man runs wildly down the street; their postman delivers crumpled up mail and drives his jeep into and over a neighbor’s mailbox; and at a restaurant a short order cook wildly throws dishes at their waitress. Also one day a red rash appears on Beth’s cheek.
The filmmakers skillfully show a community descending into zombie horror, until at last the whole community is in peril. During a tryst on the beach, Beth’s mood turns so dark that she smashes the platform on which the lifeguard shed sits, thus revealing superhuman strength. The ruins catch fire from a power line that she has disrupted. Later there is a darkly funny scene, in which Zack arrives at the Slocums and finds Beth chained to the large kitchen stove. He leaves with her, she carrying the large stove on her back is if were a large backpack.
Before the surprising climax there are several unexpected twists that made this non-fan of zombie movies a believer in this one. “All’s well that ends well” goes the old saying from Shakespeare,and though a horror story in which Zack has to do something terrible, this one also shows by its concluding scene that it is a comedy also. Each cast member performs with skill and conviction, with Dane DeHaan and Aubrey Plaza especially convincing. Also the brief but effective appearance of Anna Kendrick as Erica lends credence to the film’s title. If you are a zombie fan, you should enjoy this one, and even if you are like me and are tired of the genre, this one might be fun to watch, though I will not be including any questions for it.