Saturday, June 11, 2011

Shaun of the Dead (2004)

Tagline: "It’s just one of those days when you’re feeling a little...dead."
Writers Simon Pegg (who stars) and Edgar Wright (who directs) have breathed hilarious new life into the often formulaic zombie genre. While other undead flicks concentrate on endless waves of hungry corpses sinking their teeth into buxom co-eds, Shaun of the Dead opts to view a zombie invasion with a more tongue-in-cheek approach. The result is one of the most original and wickedly comedic films to be released in ages.
When a mysterious virus begins to turn the residents of London into the walking dead, slacker buddies Shaun (Pegg) and Ed (Nick Frost) must rise up from the comfort of their couch to save family and friends. To complicate matters, Shaun has just been dumped by longtime girlfriend, Liz (Kate Ashfield), who is unsatisfied with the direction in which his life is headed. In addition to saving his ex and her flatmates David (Dylan Moran) and Dianne (Lucy Davis), Shaun must also rescue his mother, Barbara (Penelope Wilton), and his reviled stepfather, Philip (Bill Nighy). As the plague begins to worsen, the group must try to stick together and stay alive, all the while journeying to the safety of their local pub.
The script is chock full of hilarious one-liners and the expected amount of droll British humor. And for fans of such cinematic gems as Star Wars and Night of the Living Dead, there are plenty of tributes to be found. Especially tasty is the standoff in the pub, lifted straight from Tarantino’s bloody opus, Reservoir Dogs. Just trying to catch all the pop culture references will require at least a couple of viewings.

The special effects are solid, but this isn’t a movie which relies on a ton of gore or gunplay, even though there’s a bit of both in the latter stages of the picture. This is a movie about how people who are somewhat laughable or goofy might still remain as such, even in the face of a zombie apocalypse. Ultimately, you’d much rather hang out with this gang in a crisis than the steely-eyed survivors of other zombie genre films.
Much like the original Dawn of the Dead made connections between the zombies and rampant consumerism, Shaun of the Dead makes the hilarious connection between the brain-dead cannibals and their equally brain-dead (but alive) counterparts who work in trivial, dead-end jobs. Neither fate requires much thought or effort, and the unlucky victims would much rather be doing something else.
It’s a laugh from start to finish, and it’s equally enjoyable viewed alone or with a group of friends. Shaun of the Dead is the rare horror/comedy which can be enjoyed by everyone, despite his or her normal cinematic preferences. In short, it’s got something for everyone, and that’s a rarity in modern cinema.

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