Hey folks, Harry here... this film is just bloody brilliant. Many that attended the little screening I had here in Austin feel they will not see a film they love more this year. SHAUN OF THE DEAD could play against any of your favorite, played 150 times horror films and come out smiling. It is really, that fucking great. England gets it next weekend, and my envy knows no bounds. I want to go again, RIGHT NOW! I've been listening to the soundtrack in bliss for the past two days. I LOVE THIS MOVIE! Here's Quint, who wasn't as crazy about it as me... ahem... (sarcasm alert) Ere' ya go...
Ahoy, squirts! The bloodiest, crustiest not yet undead seaman, Quint, here with my review of Edgar Wright's feature film debut. I must admit an ignorance to Wright's work. I've heard of SPACED, but have never seen one single episode. After watching the awesomeness that is SHAUN OF THE DEAD, trust me when I say I'm going to track me down the show...
When the credits rolled, all my thoughts were jumbled in my head. I knew I loved it, but I was trying to figure out what about the film made it work. The story is simple... A kind of loser guy, Shaun (Simon Pegg), fucks up his life. His best friend, Ed (played by the god-like genius that is Nick Frost) is loyal, but a loser. No ambition, no income, but a good heart and great sense of humor. This puts a strain on all of Shaun's relationships, be it with his girlfriend (Kate Ashfield) or his flat-mate (Peter Serafinowicz... with a name like that, I bet you wouldn't believe me if I told you he was Darth Maul's voice... but you'd be wrong!). His life is in shambles, his job sucks, his stepfather's a prick and to make matters worse a bloody zombie outbreak occurs.
The film surprised me. It' not only funny, but it's also scary. The characters are over-the-top, but not cartoons. The situations range from fart jokes (don't roll your eyes until you see the film... the fart joke in this film is in the top 3 of all time, hands down) to real emotion to gore. The film is a love letter to George Romero, but it doesn't feel self referential. I recently saw DEAD & BREAKFAST, which is a film I really wanted to love, but it's got such a hard on for Bruce Campbell and EVIL DEAD 2 that it really just kinda becomes a film that at best is an OK rip-off of EVIL DEAD.
SHAUN OF THE DEAD doesn't suffer from that problem. The movie is so unique, the characters so original, that it never feels like a retread. The film references, for the most part, are not the obvious choices. For instance, who would have thought that Shaun would adopt the "DEER HUNTER" look toward the end of the film?
What I had trouble trying to set straight in my mind after the movie was really how to describe the film. Is it a comedy? Yes, absolutely. A hilarious and extremely witty comedy at that. Is it a horror movie? Yes, absolutely. There are genuine scares and fantastic effects work in this thing. So, does that make it a spoof? No, absolutely not.
Moriarty, Harry and a few others were talking after the screening and Moriarty nailed it. When one of my buddies compared his enjoyment of the film to his enjoyment of AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON, Moriarty lit up. "That's exactly right. SHAUN OF THE DEAD is to zombie movies what AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON was to werewolf movies."
I'm sure he'll go on about that in his review, but he hit it on the head. Just as AMERICAN WEREWOLF was both a sharp comedy AND a great horror movie, SHAUN OF THE DEAD follows that same path.
The characters are what make this movie, though. I was pretty vocal about my disappointment in the newly released DAWN OF THE DEAD remake and how it is kind of a slap in the face to Romero's original films. One of my biggest complaints about the movie was how there was zero character development. There was not one person in the whole movie that I wasn't rooting for getting torn apart in some gruesome way.
So, how is it that the comedy movie that, I'm sure, cost 1/10th of DAWN OF THE DEAD, ended up having the cooler zombies and most well drawn characters? A movie called SHAUN OF THE DEAD had more believable relationships than any genre films I've seen in in recent memory... How does something like that happen? Seriously, there's a character that gets bitten near the end of the film that I liked so much that I was genuinely angry at the filmmakers for dooming this character.
I'm a huge, huge fan of background comedy, meaning the main characters are going about their business, but behind them is where the real joke is. The Zuckers were kings of this in AIRPLANE! and TOP SECRET, but I haven't really seen it done as well since. SHAUN OF THE DEAD has the best usage of background comedy since the hey-day of the Zuckers... I don't want to ruin it, but my favorite bit is right when Shaun and Ed leave the pub and there's a couple making out against the building. That couple is what you need to watch.
Any geek out there is going to die for this film. I predict that within a year of its release, you're going to see high school and college kids quoting Pegg and Frost with the same enthusiasm as they quote from THE BIG LEBOWSKI, Charlie Murphy's True Hollywood Stories ("I'm Rick James, bitch!") and OFFICE SPACE. Queen's "Don't Stop Me Now" and "You're My Best Friend" will have whole new meanings for you. Fanboys will be demanding a McFarlane Shaun figure (with cricket mallet and removable dart, of course).
I could go on and on about my love of this film, but since the whole bloody AICN crew went to the screening, I'll cut the review short and let you hear from them. I know Focus Features has the film for US Distribution, but I don't think they've set a release date yet. I'm sure you'll be hearing lots about this film in the near future. From one zombie nut to another don't miss the chance to see this film!
That's it from me, squirts. This is Quint bidding you all a fond farewell and adieu.