Shaun of the Dead Review
Look! More Zombies! It seems that Easter looks like the holiday period for zombies. We've just had the remake of the classic Dawn of the Dead released at British cinemas that brought out some positive thoughts unlike some remakes. However, if there is one zombie movie that the film world seems to be quite interested in then it has to be Shaun Of The Dead. Originally created and produced before Dawn's remake could emerge, Spaced creators Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright have attempted to deliver their acclaimed humour to the big screen. Rather than do the Spaced movie, they've opted to do a romantic zombie comedy. Yes, you did read that correctly. Shaun Of The Dead attempts to mix the horrors of a zombie film with humour and romance. This sounds a heavily taxing job for the Spaced creators. But they've done it.
The film revolves around hapless average joe, Shaun. Life for Shaun (Simon Pegg) seems to be excessively slow. He has a boring job at an electronics store where he is the ridicule of the teenage employees. He lives in a messy flat spending time with his school friend Ed (Nick Frost) who he always seems to be going to the same pub with, The Winchester, every day for drinks and snacks. That said, it is this life that is ruining his potential love life with girlfriend Liz (Kate Ashfield) who ultimately dumps him after failing to change his ways. How can life get any worse for poor Shaun?
It can get a lot worse! Shaun, at first, completely neglects to notice that an odd illness is going around his hometown killing people and changing them into zombies. It is only when a zombie girl mistaken for a drunk by Shaun and Ed attacks them that the duo figure out something terrible is happening around them. Suddenly Shaun finds himself having to lead a rescue mission to save his mom, Barbara (Penelope Wilton), from his already infected stepfather Philip (Bill Nighy) and, if that wasn’t enough, then go off to rescue Liz from her apartment even if her friends David (Dylan Moran) and Dianne (Lucy Davis) say no. Also not forgetting that there is a lack of places to hide from the strengthening zombie army, Shaun comes up with the perfect hiding place to get away from the zombies…. The Winchester. It sounds like a plan, if Shaun and his friends and family can get there first.
If you loved Simon Pegg’s TV show Spaced, then chances are that you will more than likely adore Shaun of the Dead which very much stays in the style of the show. It’s just with a different set of characters and a bizarre situation. But regardless of whether you have seen Spaced or not, it is still a hilarious romp with some gut-busting laughs. So far it looks to be one of the best comedies of 2004. It is a very rewarding film even if it does offer the most bizarre cameo appearance by several British comedians ever featuring Martin Freeman (The Office), Matt Lucas (Little Britain) and Reece Shearsmith (The League of Gentlemen).
I’m happy with how writing team Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright have approached the genre of the zombie film perfectly converting it into their acclaimed expression of a zombie rom-com. There’s a fine balance between the horror, comedy and the romance. The comedy being it’s strongest with bouts of slapstick, mostly found in the zombie killing scenes, and witty dialogue mixed in. It even borders on the surreal when Shaun devises his plans for rescuing people. However, if there are any complaints about Shaun of the Dead, it might be about the finale at The Winchester which looses some laughs and decent scares. This ultimately takes the film into the realm of the over-emotional. These nitpicks don’t mean that the film collapses in the final act. Instead, it just tries to change the atmosphere of the film from the wonderful comedic carnage that writer Pegg and Wright unleashed beforehand.
With a decline of actual decent British comedy films, Shaun of the Dead is the good kick that the genre needs to get itself going again. The film is dark, funny, gory, a fitting tribute to George Romero (A little better than D.O.T.D 2004) and just good fun to enjoy. Most cinemagoers will lap up the silliness and the horror of Shaun of the dead and for those missing Spaced you will feel more than satisfied. Highly recommended.