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MOTELx Quick Review: Life After Beth

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  • Directed by: Jeff Baena
  • With: Aubrey Plaza, Dane DeHaan and John C. Reilly
  • 89 Minutes

This year, the organization of MOTELx decided to officially open the festival with a romantic comedy about zombies. Yep, from that small description it looks a lot that I’m talking about last year’s Warm Bodies but no. Zombies always were specific creatures dedicated to the horror genre but apparently someone saw their potential for comedies and now it looks like we’re living in an alternative world were romantic comedies with undead are a reality. Life After Beth is the name of the movie I’m about to review. A boy in love, a zombie apocalypse in coming… Everything could go wrong but the real question is: is it worth to watch?

Zach is devastated after his girlfriend’s death but when she returns to our world miraculously, he wishes to seize the most this second opportunity that fate gave to him. Unfortunately for poor Zach, Beth is not quite the person she was before and there’s not much he can do to improve his life.

Life After Beth stars John C. Reilly and Paul Reiser and was directed by Jeff Baena. The critical reception after its world premiere at the Sundance festival featured some pleasant compliments but this is not enough to say that picking this movie to open a horror film festival isn’t a risky choice. Although it reveals heart and soul, I did not feel compelled with it. I mean, there are really funny moments but it’s like the movie is divided into two different acts in which in the first one there’s love in the air and in the second one action and comedy rule the place. The characters are funny and I enjoyed watching Reilly on the screen but nothing memorable happened and that kind of let me down. I enjoyed Warm Bodies because it was different, it was romantic and funny but in Life After Beth I was incapable of feel anything except for laughing about some of the jokes. It’s funny to see how everything evolves and the love story is funny but the plot as a whole was not a big deal and I felt a bit bored in some moments. Probably I was not in the right mood to enjoy it or I was just expecting something better than Warm Bodies since the plots were a bit similar. In the end, I felt a constant lack of something that could give the movie another meaning in my mind. It was funny, romantic and all but nothing remarkable happens. So, if you’re thinking about watching it, consider leaving it to a more calm and funny night.

★★½

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MOTELx Quick Review: Among the Living (2014)

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  • Directed by:   Alexandre Bustillo and  Julien Maury
  • With:  Anne Marivin, Théo Fernandez, Francis Renaud
  • 90 Minutes

The next movie I’ve decided to talk about is also focused in the “home invasion” genre and was a really intense journey that only failed in being captivating and surprising. Directed by Alexandre Bustillo and  Julien Maury, Among the Living was one of the French movies picked by the organization of the festival to be part of their selection. The story starts with a very dark atmosphere and perhaps during the entire length of the movie, there are only some very specific moments in which there’s no intensity at all. Intriguing? Well, even though I felt a bit lost there were some clear attempts to make the movie work but the “home invasion” genre was explored so many times throughout the years that I think that the surprise factor is needed for sure and that is a flaw of this movie.

When three kids, Victor, Dan and Tom, decide to skip their last classes to spend the day in a closed and abandoned amusement park, they are confronted with a horrifying vision: a woman in chains dragged by a man with a mask. A clear sign of danger that wasn’t enough to prevent the boys from investigating what was going on. When they arrive to the place the woman was dragged to and they realize they were seen, they ran away from the park but unfortunately for them their lives are now in danger because the vicious and evil man with the mask does not wish to be found. Just like in “The boy who cried wolf”, the three friends will try to find help by telling what happened to the police and to their families but no one believes them so in the end, their lives just depend on themselves.

While the characters work really well and while we feel the friendship between the three kids, the story of the villains is somehow hard to understand and I only felt a bit of intensity in the last act of the movie. Although the story isn’t bad, Among the Living is incapable of provoking and frightening the audience because the darker scenes simply aren’t that effective. The kids’ development, from courageous to afraid, is a good strategy to keep everyone interesting and the story at first is surrounded by mystery and uncertainty. The quick change from mysterious to violent and brutal is, in my opinion, a bit disappointing because I was starting to enjoy the slow pace and mystery and the only thing I got in the finale was blood and death. Among the Living works for the fans of the genre but isn’t much of a surprise and in a selection filled with great movies, this was probably the one I enjoyed the least. Sure it’s unconventional and brutal but it’s far from being on my preferences.

★★½

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