25/10/2013

Shaun of the Dead (2004)

Film: Shaun of the Dead
Release: 2004, theatrical
Starring: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Kate Ashfield
Directed by: Edgar Wright
Next in the series: Hot Fuzz
IMDB page: Link opens in a new window
Description: Shaun is an aimless middle class man who decides to turn his life around and get back his girlfriend, unfortunately the very same day a zombie plague breaks out in his small british hometown.

Hans' thoughts:

Perhaps the most unexpected combination of genres ever, Shaun of the Dead is a romantic comedy that just happens to take place during the zombie apocalypse. Kickstarting what would later be known as "The Cornetto Trilogy", Shaun of the Dead represents the best of modern British comedy, as well as a love letter to perhaps the goriest genre of all: The Zombie movies. 

To start off, Shaun of the Dead is "very British". Presenting drama in it's stories without taking it too seriously and being absolutely drenched in the kind of sarcasm and dry wit yet bizarre situations that British comedy has become known for internationally. If you're a fan of "britcoms" ala Black Books, Keeping up Appearances or Red Dwarf, chances are there is something for you in this movie. Simon Pegg does an excellent job as the duty-full but still childish Shaun who struggles to keep his priorities straight, this is only helped by the somewhat opposite of Nick Frost as the best friend who's been living on his couch, smoking weed for the last three years. Of course, a concept can be as good as it wants to be but nothing will work if the frame for the movie, the zombies, aren't done well and I'm happy to report that as far as zombie movies go. These are very classic zombies. Do not expect anything as bleak as a "serious" zombie movie though as the tone of the movie is pretty lighthearted and these zombies aren't all that gory. This is partially because the zombies haven't been dead for very long, which is a great detail. Normally in Zombie movies, the zombies will look incredibly gory and rotted away even after a few hours of being "turned". There are none-to few "running" zombies as well, and the concept of others being turned after a bite is kept around. Making the zombie origin story very simple would be considered a weak point in any other film but because it isn't the forefront of the movie at all, it makes a pass.

No, the "meat" of the story is very much a late coming of age story for Shaun. Here he is, too old for anything, being a middle-manager in a store where he has to take sarcasm from ambitious people much younger than himself and unable to break his daily routine of meeting up with the same old gang and going to the same old bar. His girlfriend is tired of him not being able to take the next step and make a serious commitment, or as other people would say "To grow the f... up". The focus on the romantic comedy element rather than the zombie lot is what makes this movie so approachable, I've been able to show this movie to people who don't even have a passing interest in horror and still seeing them laugh. 

If you normally just watch comedies and you want to get into the Halloween spirit, this could very well be the right choice for oyu. It has spooky elements without being scary, plus it has a easy-to-understand plot and some of the best comedic writing this side of the year 2000.
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