Inside we have our third look at Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg’s Romantic Comedy with Zombies, Shaun of the Dead (review #1, #2). Like our first two reviews and the ones coming later in the coming weeks, reviewer ‘l3pyr’ couldn’t get enough of one of the best horror movies ever assembled. Read on for his review and check out ‘Shaun of the Dead’ on October 24th thanks to Rogue Films…
Shaun of the Dead (2004)
By: l3pyr ([email protected])
Take three parts Romero, add two parts Jackson, one part Raimi and 10 parts creativity; whip into a beautiful cinematic cream while adding generous amounts of British humor to taste. “Fuck-a-doodle-doo,” it looks like we have an instant classic on our hands! While Edgar Wright (Writer/Director) and Simon Pegg (Co-Writer/Star) did not invent the ROMantic ZOMmbie COMedy, they did invent the phrase “RomZomCom,” and for that plus the minor accomplishment of making the best RomZomCom, if not the best horror comedy, to date will they be forever remembered. Move over Romero, Jackson, Raimi and Campbell, there are two new last names about to force their way into the never-ending discussions and debates among horror fans across the globe.
Wreckage from space causes a zombie plague. A group of people barricade themselves inside a building and fends off a zombie horde through all available means. A man tries to find balance in his life while keeping both his “mum” and his girlfriend happy, but manages to screw it all up and spends the rest of the movie sorting things out. Sound familiar? A confused newscaster can barely believe what he’s actually saying as he tells viewers the only way to stop the assailants is to, “remove the head or destroy the brain.” Another newscaster surprisingly reads a report that the recently deceased are apparently returning to life. Hell, they even throw in an old boom stick for good measure. Night of the Living Dead and Dead Alive are the obvious inspirations for this film, and Evil Dead, while less obvious, is still apparent at times. But don’t get me wrong, never has the open borrowing of major plot devices from numerous sources lead to such an entirely unique and amazing final product. Folks, this movie shows us how you pay homage to the greats without infringing on the greats. All the loyal horror fans out there who have seen every movie ever made with “dead” in the title will be privy to a number of inside jokes that the masses will be quite oblivious to. Part of the beauty of this movie though is that it also has plenty of content that will please the masses as well as us, and to successfully walk that line is no easy task.
To reveal any more of the plot would be an atrocity upon all those who have not yet seen this film so I’ll try to convey the general attitude and attributes of the film. Two similar continuous shots of Shaun (Simon Pegg) walking to the store and back during his morning routine give us a parallel of life before and after zombies. Incredibly, they are so similar, minus numerous sight gags such as Shaun slipping on an unseen pool of blood in the mini-mart, that Shaun doesn’t even realize what is happening. Long shots of crowds of people before zombie-dom and after look so alike that we strain to see when exactly they’re all changed. Various bus trips of Shaun’s give us a gauge of humanity’s decline, as people get sicker and sicker inside the bus. On the final trip a lady sitting next to Shaun collapses near-death on his shoulder and he just shrugs her off toward the window, disgusted and oblivious as to what is going on around him. These are all part of an ingenious commentary about the tedious, zombie-like operation of everyday life and our un-sympathetic society that is present throughout the entire movie. There are so many more examples I wish I could give you but like I said before, doing so would ruin the religious experience that is watching Shaun of the Dead, so I won’t. Suffice it to say that every scene in this movie is bettered by nothing and equaled only by every scene before and after it. Our theme is brought to a near-comical level with a terrific ending that will leave you laughing hysterically while contemplating society’s flaws and pondering over zombies, sex, video games and life in general. Unfortunately though, it is brought about a bit too quickly by deus ex machina reminiscent of a scene from Dawn of the Dead (’78). It’s not completely out of place though as the director told us throughout the whole movie you get the feeling that larger events are happening off-screen. It is just the impeccable timing of these events coming onscreen plus their accompaniment by a certain character that makes it all rather improbable. However, the whole thing was rather tongue-in-cheek and seen as how I never wanted this movie to end I believe any plot device which brought about the ending would have angered me.
I can’t imagine a more perfect cast, it seems each actor was born solely to play his or her respective roles in this movie. Combine that with a quick-witted script, great cinematography, moderate amounts of gore (trust me, this movie doesn’t need excessive gore to do it justice) and quality producing and we are left with a flawless cross-genre blockbuster. While watching this movie I actually felt goose bumps I got so excited; I was seeing the living incarnation of my idea of the perfect movie and I loved every frame of it. SOTD truly raises the bar for the whole genre, which may unfortunately lead to added disappointment in all movies that don’t rise anywhere near its level, but it’s worth it. Any movie-lover has to see this movie. If you have ever enjoyed a horror movie, a comedy or anything that dangles in between do yourself a favor and go watch this, preferably more than once. After that, wait a few months and buy the DVD when it comes out and show it to anyone who was foolish enough to have missed it the first time around.
5/5 – A classic sure to bridge generations upon generations of horror fans