A romantic comedy. With zombies. Need I say more?
Fine, fine, for the sake of completion I’ll actually write a review of Shaun of the Dead.
A modern classic of horror comedy, Shaun of the Dead takes the best elements of light British romantic comedy and mixes it in with George A. Romeroesque zombie ultra-violence into one of the most unique horror films to cross the pond in some time. To top it off, it introduced the brilliant talents of Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and director Edgar Wright as some of the best comedic minds working today to American audiences.
Shaun (Simon Pegg) is the loveable oaf you get in every romantic comedy. He’s heading into his 30’s, but has no direction in life. He lives with his slob of a roommate, Ed (Nick Frost), an overweight loser who refuses to grow up, and has just been dumped by his beautiful girlfriend Liz (Kate Ashfield). He wants to win her back, he wants to show her he can grow up and be the man she needs, but when it’s so much easier to just take in a pint down at The Winchester, this is hard to do. And on top of everything else, a zombie apocalypse that is ravaging England threatens to really mess up his day.
From top to bottom, this is a near perfect movie. The script by Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg is one of the smartest to come along in years. Knowing that much of our fear of a zombie apocalypse comes from an overarching fear of forced conformity, the film gets many of its laughs in the first act by showing how much we are already like zombies, and how difficult it is for the main characters to actually notice anything once the apocalypse has actually begun. Once things go to hell, instead of panicking, Shaun and Ed become men of action in their own, oddly incompetent way. From deciding which records would make the best anti-zombie weapons, to an oddly hilarious montage where they weigh the pros and cons of what would make the best anti-zombie fortresses (naturally they choose their favorite pub), this is a brilliantly written, infinitely quotable film.
Structurally, however, this film is also an exquisite zombie movie of the Romero variety. Dripping with references and homages to classics of the genre (don’t say the zed word!), it is the kind of movie that fans of the genre and people who have never seen a horror movie before in their lives can get into (back when my future wife was nervous about treading into the waters of horror, this was the film I used to introduce her to the concept; now she's as big a genre fan as I). Though it is a comedy through and through, the threat level of the living dead is never understated. Main characters are often bitten and killed off, and the familiarity we gain with them through the comedic acts of this movie makes most of their deaths truly heartbreaking. I say most, because as always in a zombie movie there is one asshole character we want to see die in the worst way possible, and Shaun manages this in spades with one of the most hilariously gory deaths in zombie history.
Poignant, hilarious and well-acted, Shaun of the Dead has deservedly entered the pantheon of classic zombie movies.
And as always, please drop me a line on Facebook or Twitter! I'm big into liking/following back!
-- Matt Carter
(We know there's a lot of Matt Carter's online you could spend your time with, so thanks for hanging around this one!)