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Rogue Pictures

Official Site

Director: Edgar Wright

Producers: Nira Park

Written by: Simon Pegg, Edgar Wright

Cast: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Kate Ashfield, Lucy Davis, Dylan Moran, Bill Nighy, Jessica Stevens


I’m not really sure how to classify Shaun Of The Dead, a popular import from the U.K. now being released in the colonies. The simplest term is probably the one the filmmakers use—“rom zom com” (short for romantic zombie comedy). Despite its foreign origins and humor, Shaun Of The Dead stands out as one of the funniest, most entertaining, and compelling movies you will see all year. It features great, well-acted characters, hilarious comedy, romance, drama, tragedy, societal criticism, and copious amounts of delicious violence and gore.

Our titular hero, Shaun (co-screenwriter Pegg), is the film’s designated under-achieving everyman. Shaun has a lovely girlfriend, Liz (Ashfield) who just wants some attention and time with her boyfriend, but Shaun’s too wrapped up in doing the same old same old with his weed-dealing buddy, Ed (Frost)—who is even more of a slacker—and hanging out at the Winchester pub. Shaun’s a decent guy. He loves his mum, tolerates his step-dad Phillip (Nighy), and he wants to do better for Liz and get some respect from his peers as a team manager in his dead-end electronics store job. Shaun just needs that little push, that jolt of motivation, to make the gears start turning. Luckily for Shaun, undead hordes of zombies are popping up all over in London, ready to give him the challenge he needs. Now all Shaun (and seemingly all of London) has to do is get off their arses.

One of the great things about this movie is the way it continuously manages to surprise you. It first plays as straight and funny comedy, but then moments of serious tragedy and sadness juxtapose it all, followed by a switchback to comedy or a joke. Some critics would consider a narrative in this format “schizophrenic” or “unsure of what it wants to be,” but the performances by the actors and the execution are done so well that the filmmakers make it work. Shaun is very sure of what it wants to be—an extremely funny and sentimental horror film… or something.

All the performances in this film, by Pegg and Frost (both stars of the British comedy series “Spaced”) in particular, are bloody marvelous. I think the problem with most modern horror films in general, is the fact that the characters and actors suck, so you don’t care about them at all. It’s usually the monster(s) or a threat that is the most interesting while the main actors are just annoying, whiny cannon fodder (and females whose artificial assets can act better than themselves) whom people cheer for when they finally bite it. In Shaun, the main characters are the best and most interesting parts of the film, and that’s the way it should be. The characters are all well-written, and even with all the mistakes they make, you generally want to see them prevail.

If comedy and drama are not enough for you, know that Shaun Of The Dead is rife with social commentary. While it seems pretty obvious early on that London is undergoing an epidemic of the undead nature, no one really seems to care. Everyone in London likes to mind their own business a little too much, without paying attention to pertinent news reports and remaining oblivious to a world that’s starting to crumble around them. When Shaun and Ed first encounter a zombie, they think it’s just a drunk girl, and it’s not until after the zombie gets up after being impaled on a flagpole that they decide to see what’s going in the world on the telly. When Ed is the first person in the movie to actually say the word “zombie,” Shaun immediately chastises him and says, “Because it’s ridiculous!” The overall lack of panic, and the casual concern the characters show toward current events is actually a pretty refreshing change from Americans shitting their pants and going berserk over little things, even though the filmmakers use the film as a metaphor about how isolated people in England appear. For example, Shaun leads a group of his friends (to where else but the Winchester?) and runs into his old mate, Yvonne (Stevens) who is leading her own group. After a quick “Hi, how you do?” Both groups just walk past each other in opposite directions with no further exchange, obviously forgetting that old cliché, “strength in numbers.”

The zombies in the film are your traditional, decomposing corpses, and unlike the most recent and popular zombie movies such as 28 Days Later and the Dawn Of The Dead remake, these guys can’t run. And really, how the hell would rotting corpses be able to run anyway? If they could run, it would take away from such hilarious scenes when the acting student, Dianne (Davis, who fans might recognize from another popular British-comedy series, “The Office”), tutors Shaun and the group on how to “act” like a zombie and navigate through a humongous zombie rabble. The zombie make-up, created by Brian Best, is certainly more convincing than the cheap-ass looking ones in crap like Resident Evil (A.N.: I mean that God-awful movie by Paul “W.S.” Anderson, not the games. I love the games.)

So believe every bit of the hype for Shaun Of The Dead because it’s all true and delivers on all it promises. I’m also anxious to see what the director and co-writer, Edgar Wright, (who comes from a heavy television background and directs shows such as “Spaced”) does next. Wright did a fantastic job, with what I believe is his first feature film. In conclusion, Shaun Of The Dead is without hyperbole, the best rom zom com of all time.

“Who died and made you fucking king of the zombies?”


—Jeffrey “The Vile One” Harris

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