8 Best Movies About Death That Will Reinvigorate Your Zest For Life

Everyone gets down from time to time, and while there may be no cure for the human condition, there are ways in which we can support each other on the bad days. One such way involves sharing one’s experiences through music, literature, and film. It’s always nice to know that our feelings of isolation and loneliness are actually quite universal, and watching a film in which a character learns to cope with such feelings can be a huge relief on those blue days.

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Whether you’re feeling lonely, apathetic, completely drained, or just heavy of heart and soul, it should always be some comfort to know that you aren’t the first person to feel such feelings, and you certainly won’t be the last. So, pop some popcorn, throw some chocolate candy in there, sit down on your couch and watch one of the movies listed below, and see if you can get a portion of your zest back, if only for a moment.


‘Beetlejuice’ (1988)

While the film revolves around the titular character, a sneaky and foul-mouthed ghost who longs to torment the living, most viewers would find they relate most to Lydia Deetz (Winona Ryder), the moody teenager who struggles with feeling invisible among her family.

Lydia’s cynical perception of life and all around dreary persona make for an extremely fun character, and one most of us can relate to. While both her and Beetlejuice are the highlights of the film, the true value of the movie comes from Lydia finding a place within her home and her family, while still retaining the elements of her personality that make her, her.

‘Life After Beth’ (2014)

This indie-comedy zombie flick is filled with dry humor and existential themes, and it may be the perfect movie for the days when you feel like a zombie yourself. The film revolves around a young man (Dane DeHaan) dealing with the miraculous revival of his recently deceased girlfriend, Beth (Aubrey Plaza). Compared to other zombie comedies, the film could be considered uneventful, as it’s much more of an indie slice-of-life than it is an action film.

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The dark humor and witty dialogue make for a perfect distraction on the days when you’re wondering what the hell you’re doing here and why it even matters, while still validating the human need for answers and our pesky existential curiosity. So, if you’re looking for a light comedy that explores topics you won’t get in casual conversation with your co-workers, give Life After Beth a go.

‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ (1946)

James Stewart‘s George Bailey doesn’t technically die within the narrative, but the film revolves around his contemplating suicide after his company’s collapse. Luckily, he is visited by an angel and rediscovers the joy of life.

The film is old and could be considered somewhat outdated, but even in present day it is quite moving to see a character in the depths of despair find a light at the end of the tunnel. Sometimes when you’re feeling low, it’s nice to be reminded of the joys of life, because such joys can be difficult to see when you’re in the throes of a depressive episode. Many people can relate to George Bailey’s feelings of hopelessness and loss and while we don’t have angels to remind us of our worth, we do have each other. So, if you get anything from this article, let it be that the world is much better with you in it.

‘Warm Bodies’ (2013)

While Life After Beth is a slightly more serious indie comedy, Warm Bodies is more mainstream, but no less funny and heartfelt. The film was pretty big when it came out, but if you happened to miss it the plot revolves around a recently zombified young man who falls in love with a living woman, causing an unexpected metamorphosis to occur.

As can be expected, the film is quirky, funny, and sweet, and of course, quite romantic. Warm Bodies is super fun, and the metaphor of love being a catalyst for mental and emotional awakening is a good one. All in all, this film is the ultimate feel-good movie, and a must-watch for anyone who finds themselves disenchanted with life.

‘Only Lovers Left Alive’ (2013)

For those of you who weren’t caught up in the vampire crave of 2010, give the vamp-lover genre another chance with Jim Jarmusch’s, Only Lovers Left Alive. The film is everything that a vampire romance should be; philosophical, melancholic, undeniably cool and exquisitely romantic.

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Adam (Tom Hiddleston) is an immortal musician who finds himself fallen into a depressive episode about once every…few centuries. His mood is improved by the visit of his older and much wiser lover, Eve (Tilda Swinton), as the two discuss philosophy, science, art, and literature Adam begins to regain his lust for life. While many films from this particular genre run the risk of being ultra-cheesy, Jim Jarmusch’s vision is anything but. Imagine Eric Forman’s basement, but the people in the circle are Greek philosophers. If you appreciate a chill atmosphere with some intelligent conversation, Only Lovers Left Alive will become an instant favorite.

‘Wristcutters: A Love Story’ (2006)

The afterlife is a common topic among human beings, but Wristcutters puts an interesting spin on what to expect when you leave this mortal coil. The “underworld” in this indie comedy is something very much like life, “just a little worse”. After he is dumped by his girlfriend, Zia (Patrick Fugit) commits suicide and ends up in a place that is reserved for those who have taken their own lives, a place that greatly resembles the living world. Now, that’s just cruel.

Despite that however, the film is actually quite fun as Zia joins Eugene (Shea Whigham) and Mikal (Shannyn Sossamon) on a journey to find the “person in charge”. While Mikal’s quest involves her confronting those in power and making her case that she didn’t commit suicide and doesn’t belong in this place, Zia hopes to find his lost girlfriend, who he’s heard has recently taken her own life. The film is packed with existential humor and philosophical themes, while still staying true to the classic rom-com formula.

‘Harold And Maude’ (1971)

Strictly speaking, the titular character of Harold (Bud Cort) does not die in this film, but his obsession with death, shown in his constant attendance of funerals, his restoring and driving of a hearse, and his hilarious staging of suicides, shows that Harold is the ultimate edgy teen who is “dead inside”. Hal Ashby‘s Harold and Maude is all about the search for the will to live, so a movie that would reinvigorate your zest for life better than this one would be difficult to find.

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As Maude (Ruth Gordon) opens Harold’s eyes up to the joys of life, he finds himself forever changed. Anyone who has had a spiritual awakening can attest to the euphoric relief of finally seeing the world in Technicolor, after living only in shades of blue, and ‘Harold and Maude’ captures this feeling beautifully.

‘Corpse Bride’ (2005)

You didn’t really think there’d only be one Burton film on this list, did you? We’ve come full circle with Corpse Bride, a stop-motion ghost story about a young man, Victor (Johnny Depp) who accidentally marries a corpse, Emily (Helena Bonham Carter) and finds himself sucked into the Land of the Dead. The defining thing about this film is that the deceased are much more alive in spirit than the living, who languish above ground waiting to…well, die.

Burton’s direction is masterful as ever, as the blue and gray tints of the living world are contrasted with the lively green and purples of the Land of the Dead. That beautifully gothic imagery is something that Tim Burton perfects, and there are some (this person included) who would call ‘Corpse Bride’ his magnum opus. The film is funny, touching, and extremely beautiful, and if the singing quartet of skeletons with bowler hats doesn’t lure you in, we’re not sure what will.

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