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Just when you couldn't take anymore zombie flicks, one more comes along. It boasts that it is a comedy. Hmm... something different, new? Why, yes, a comedic undead film! Genius! And while it could be argued that Dan O'Bannon's "Return of the Living Dead" was the original zom-com, I do believe that "Shaun of the Dead" will be the one to be remembered.
Shaun is a loser. Worse, he is a loser in his late-twenties, and he is quickly going nowhere at all fast. His job sucks, his flat sucks, his friend is a loser, and his girlfriend just dumped him. "Luckily" for Shaun, the apocalypse has come, and as the dead rise from their graves, our hapless hero sees this as the perfect oppurtunity to right all of his wrongs.
First, there's his mother. Not only does he seem to neglect her, but he hates his step-father, Philip, whom seems only to exist to counter-point every one of Shaun's ideas. Then there's Shaun's best friend, Ed, who only wants to hang out and play video games. Finally, he has to reconcile with Liz, his girlfriend who wants nothing more than to be alone with Shaun for a moment instead of hanging out at the local bar with Ed and her two roommates, Diane and David.
Of course, there is also the undead factor which, wouldn't you know, just will not go away.
"Shaun of the Dead" is the best zombie flick of 2004. I enjoyed the "Dawn" re-make and I couldn't stand "Resident Evil: Apocalypse" just so you know were I'm coming from. What "Shaun" has that the others lack is a true sense of heart. For example, is "Shaun of the Dead" a comedy or a horror film? This question is never answered by either the writers (Shaun himself, Simon Pegg and director Edgar Wright) or the director. The comic timing is perfect and the horror timing just as well.
My favorite scene occurs early on in which Shaun takes a familiar trip to the local market for a couple of sodas for himself and Ed. Now, not only does he not realize that just about every channel on the TV is focused on the zombie apocalypse, but when he steps outside, he doesn't even notice the "28 days later..."-esque landscape... or the living dead for that matter.
This is impressive on two levels. On a technical standpoint, the shot is amazing as Shaun walks a block to the store, picks up the sodas, and than back to his flat all in a single take; no cuts. On a zom-com level, the footage is incredible. Not only do you laugh as our hero wanders around the streets completely unaware of the zombies, but the whole thing gives you a creepy feeling as you see the undead shuffle around.
"Shaun" is packed with moments just like this. Not only to I give the amazing cast credit (all are exceptional, but I give Nick (Ed) Frost the most credit for really working the comedy), but I give major props to director Edgar Wright, who really knows his stuff. Never have I wanted to cry, been filled with fear, and laughed all at the same time (you'll see what I mean, specifcally one scene involving Shaun's mother in the tavern).
Romero was right- this truly is the best zombie film since the original "Dead" trilogy.
Oh, and don't expect any Anderson-like quick cuts. The gore is in full effect here, even more so than the "Dawn" remake and "Apocalypse" combined. There's even a gut-tearing scene in all its bloody glory. Hooray!
**** out of ****
Posted: September 25th, 2004, 12:25pm
I'm seeing this tomorrow, I can't wait. Even more so after reading this.
Saw it, loved it! Hilarious, probably the only time I've seen a movie in theaters and have not been able to keep my laughing under control (not that it mattered, everyone had that problem). I was surprised, it pulled it off on both levels: it truly IS a romantic comedy with zombies.
Saw it yesterday at the 11:40 showing at the Star Theater at the mall. I really liked it. It was funny, scary, and sad it all combined together perfectly. I thought the acting was really top notch as well. This has to be the best recent zombie picture. I am hoping on seeing it again soon. Oh yes almost forgot the "We're coming to get you Barbra" line that Ed said was great.