Reviewed by: Jonathan Rodriguez
|Featuring:||Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Kate Ashfield, Dylan Moran, Lucy Davis|
|Producer:||Nira Park, Natascha Wharton, Alison Owen, Jim Wilson|
“A romantic comedy. With zombies.”
Must a person be dead in order for them to become a zombie? That seems to be the question not-so-subtly posed in “Shaun of the Dead” the new zombie horror comedy from director Edgar Wright. There is a scene early on that shows Shaun (Simon Pegg) wandering through his London neighborhood on his way to the convenience store. We see him walking to and from the store oblivious to the undead that are now wandering the streets, too caught up in his own world to realize that the homeless man who usually asks for money now simply wants to gnaw his neck off.
He has recently been dumped by Liz (Kate Ashfield), his longtime love, because he is a 29-year-old loser, whose idea of a romantic night is to take her to his favorite tavern, the Winchester. Shaun has become man of routine, and can’t give up the things she wishes he would—his boring sales job, his favorite tavern, his obnoxious best friend and roommate Ed (Nic Frost). So, she lets him go, which would be bad enough, were it not for the zombies now wandering the streets, looking for their next meals.
Shaun wants to protect Liz, his friends, and his mom (Penelope Wilton), so he devises a scheme to save the day. He will simply round them up and take them to, of course, the Winchester, his Mecca, where they will somehow stave off the walking corpses.
“Shaun of the Dead,” is a satirical homage of sorts to the zombie film genre, of course begun by the legendary George Romero. You don’t have to have seen his films to probably be somewhat familiar with the genre. The recent remake of Romero’s “Dawn of the Dead” and “28 Days Later” have acquainted a new audience with the genre, and this film could open up a nice new dimension in zombie films, the zombie comedy.
The film, which was co-written by Wright and Pegg, has plenty of laughs, and no, not all of them come from the leads beating zombies with cricket bats. One of the movies best scenes comes when Shaun and Ed decide to use old records to decapitate the two zombies infesting their backyard, and argue about which ones are worth throwing.
There is one rather surprising twist to the movie, however, and that’s the very intense, almost real, dramatic scenes which pop up throughout. Pegg and the rest of the cast are great in their comedic roles, but show rather believable depth when the dramatic scenes come up. The scenes almost feel out of place among all the gore, and in those moments you can see the very real acting talent possessed by the cast.
Bill Nighy (“Love Actually”) steals his few scenes as Shaun’s stepfather, who is mostly in the film for the laughs he brings, but even his scene before he succumbs to the zombie curse is somewhat powerful.
“Shaun of the Dead” is very violent, and while some of it is played humorously, ala “Kill Bill,” some scenes very much fall under the horror category. One disturbing scene, not played for laughs, shows three kids devouring the corpse of an adult. Parents should be cautious about allowing their children to go see this one, not only for the violence, but also for the constant strong language typical of most British comedies.
As a horror movie buff and one who can appreciate British humor, I thought that “Shaun of the Dead” was a very funny film. It shows us that while the dead are obviously zombies, some of us among the living who lead dull, monotonous lives may very well be also. I rate the movie as a “B.”
Violence: Extreme / Profanity: Extreme / Sex/Nudity: Mild